Friday, October 30, 2009

A Welcome Home Feeling

Creating a welcome-home feeling is every woman’s challenge. As the makers of our home we want the hearts of our loved ones to feel hugged as they walk in the front door. We want the sights to be warm and cozy, the sounds to be calming and joyful, and the smells to be yummy. We want to create a comforting environment that will help melt away the stresses of the day.

Source of quote:

I am taking some time to go over some of my favorite homemaking blogs, getting inspired in this area as I confess I have let my creativity and love of home slip a bit in the frenzy of my novel edits. But on a cozy cool afternoon it's fun to sit and dream of ways to make home feel more "homey." So I sat and sipped Zen tea, scheming and dreaming of ways I can create that welcome home feeling this fall. After perusing blogs and soaking in "homeyness," I have come up with some things I intend to do starting now:

  • I put George Winston's "Autumn" cd on hold at the library and expect it to come in some time this week. (As I type this, I am listening to my George Winston station on Pandora. So soothing.) I plan to play it in the afternoons while the children work on homework, have their snacks, and play. With the cooler temperatures and the darkness coming on earlier in the day, their outdoor playtime is limited. I would also like to have it on in the evenings. I have a picture in my head of all of us gathered around a candlelit table with soothing music playing in the background. (FYI: the pictures in my head never match my reality but it's ever so nice to dream)
  • I bought a big canister of hot chocolate, several different kinds of teas, and some apple cider to offer the children in the afternoons after school or in the evenings. They absolutely love hot drinks most anytime. Cold mornings are great too! Some styrofoam cups enable them to take their hot drinks to go!
  • I am including a big pot of soup in our menu for each week-- white chili, regular chili, chicken tortilla soup, vegetable soup, and baked potato soup are all favorites at our house. Served with some crusty bread or homemade yeast rolls and we have a filling meal.
  • I have all of our fall decorations out thanks to my mom stopping by one day in the midst of my edits and making me stop long enough to drag everything out. I was SO glad I did it once it was done. She was a huge help and made the work go fast. It makes our house look so homey and brings a smile to my face.
  • Light candles more often. I like the soft glow they bring to a room, plus the scented ones make the house smell great! My favorite this time of year is "Autumn Leaves" by Yankee Candle. Last week at an event I won a set of two candles-- one banana bread scent and one green apple scent. I have these sitting out now and am reminding myself to use them up and quit saving them for special occasions and company. I want my family to know they are special, too and worth going the extra mile for!
  • Make desserts. My family absolutely loves when I make something for dessert. The funny thing is, I remember being a kid and being SO excited if I knew my mom had made dessert. Even if it was just instant pudding served in special cups, it felt out of the ordinary-- something to be savored. This week I have plans to make homemade vanilla custard in the crockpot and a chocolate cherry dessert for our small group, which meets tonight!
  • Keep the house clean and not just tidy. My house is always tidy (I am a bit OCD about keeping things put away.) but not always clean. I bought a new duster that has refills you can use and have been dusting more ever since I bought it. Dusting is one of those chores I don't think about til company comes and I notice in horror that you could write your name on the table they are sitting beside! I find that investing in some convenience-type housekeeping products like the duster really does help make cleaning easier, which means I will actually do it.

How do you create that welcome home feeling? I would love to hear what you are doing... or want to do (that counts too)!

And, speaking of homekeeping, I did a little sprucing up on my home here on the web. Can you find what's new? Some of you already have-- thanks for noticing and for your nice notes and comments!

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Who Is David C Cook?

Welcome to all of you who stop by today after reading my devotion at P31! I am glad to have you here. I am in the midst of editing the novel I wrote that will come out in June... and running the new division of Proverbs 31-- a fiction book club for women called She Reads. Check it out at Be sure to stop back by tomorrow to read my post on creating a home... the most important job I have!!

I found this blog post and cute video about the publisher for my novels and thought I would share it with you. I am proud to be a part of the David C Cook family and can't wait for my novel to come out this June! And another one the following June!! Phew!!
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Monday, October 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday (By The Skin of My Teeth)

So, it's dark outside but it's still Monday so it still counts.

Here is a list of the meals I am planning to serve in the coming days. This will get us further than just this week. So I am not assigning days-- just have the list on my write on/wipe off board on the side of the fridge, ready and waiting.

Tonight we had spaghetti with meat sauce (which I started this afternoon and let simmer for hours), steamed broccoli and my daughter made the box mix Ghirardelli brownies which we ate warm with vanilla ice cream on top. I am still a bit sick feeling as I write this from all the feasting we did round the Whalen dinner table tonight.
Tomorrow night we are having crock pot ribs, baked potatoes and green beans. I am making a chocolate cherry dessert for our small group. Wednesday night is leftovers. And that's as far as I've gotten with the scheduling of the meals.

The rest of the meals I have planned for are listed below:

scrambled eggs, caramel apple coffee cake, hashbrowns, sausage (is it me or does that meal just beg to be served on a crisp fall night?)
turkey in the crockpot, oven sweet potato wedges, corn
baked potato soup with cheese and bacon toppings
chipotle london broil, rice pilaf, salad
shredded french dip sandwiches, french fries, fruit
grilled chicken and penne pasta toss, garlic monkey bread (recipe below)
barbecue chicken, black-eyed peas, macaroni and cheese

Here's the recipe for Garlic Monkey Bread:

1/2 C. butter, melted
1/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 cans of refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
Preheat oven to 375. Combine butter, cheese and garlic powder. Cut biscuits into quarters, dip in butter mixture and layer in 13x9” pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Desserts I plan to make this week:
Vanilla custard in the crockpot
Chocolate chip cake
that chocolate cherry dessert I already mentioned

What's for dinner at your house? Need some more ideas and recipes? Check out to see other people's submissions to Menu Plan Monday!
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Sensational Peppermint Pattie Brownies

I saw this recipe posted somewhere else and have bookmarked it to make sometime soon. We love Chocolate Peppermint anything so I am sure these will be a hit!
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook On A Sunday Afternoon

Outside my window... clear and cool, a nice day to curl up with a good book with football in the background.

I am thinking... about our wonderful church service today. Am tempted to go back for the evening service to see our pastor preach it live.

I am thankful for... the pumpkin spice decaf coffee my mom got me, a perfect treat on a cool day like this.

I am wearing... my Elevation sweatshirt and jeans with thick socks

I am remembering... fun times with old friends-- this was a weekend to catch up with a few of them. We did our share of reminiscing.

I am going... to work on my novel and hopefully finish the first round of edits early. Had a good day of writing yesterday.

I am reading...Bird In Hand by Christina Baker Kline, For Parents Only by Shaunti Feldhahn, Stein On Writing by Sol Stein and Make It Fast, Cook It Slow by Stephanie O'Dea

I am hoping... for a good but busy week. Last week was not busy at all. I loved it.

On my mind... my former college roommate's sister is in the hospital in intensive care. I sat with her for several hours this weekend while she kept vigil in the ICU waiting room. It was good to see my friend again but terrible for it to be under those circumstances. Her sister is improving but still has quite a recovery ahead of her.

From the learning rooms... B is For Bookworm: A Library Alphabet and S is For Story: A Writer's Alphabet. I made a library run this weekend.

Noticing that... the leaves are so pretty-- red and gold and orange, painted with God's paintbrush for us to enjoy.

Pondering these words... "Joy is not determined by what happens to me, but by what Christ is doing in me and through me." (A quote from my pastor today)

From the kitchen... Curt made pancakes and bacon after church this morning for all of us. It was so nice and the house still smells like syrup and hickory.

Around the house... laundry, dishes, tidying... the usual drill.

One of my favorite things... a quiet Sunday afternoon with nothing to do.

Want to see more daybook entries? Go to
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mini Apple Pies... Yum!

I got this from A Heart For Home enewsletter, which I have reprinted recipes from in the past. These sounded fun and easy to make so I thought some of you might like to try them!

This is a simple recipe that is good for breakfast, afternoon tea, a bedtime snack or dessert. These little apple pies don’t store well, however – they’re best eaten right from the oven. Warm and delicious!

Mini Apple Pies
3/4 C. flour
1/2 C. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 C. butter
1 – 16.3 oz. can of Pillsbury Grands Original Flaky Biscuits
1 – 21 oz. can of apple pie filling

In a small bowl, combine flour, brown sugar & cinnamon. Mix in butter with a fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; set aside. Split each biscuit in half to make 16 pieces. Press each one into an ungreased muffin cup. Spoon 1 heaping tabl. of pie filling into each cup. Sprinkle each with 1 tabl. crumb mixture. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes and remove from cups; place on wire rack to finish cooling. Serve warm with whipped cream on top, if desired.

If you would like to subscribe to A Heart For Home, send a blank e-mail to:
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

25 Things

Welcome to my blog if you are stopping by after reading today's devotion! I hope the devotion has you thinking about where God has you... and where He is taking you. Speaking of where He is taking you, do you ever write down your goals? I wrote this post about a recent exercise I went through that I thought that some of you might want to do it as well. I hope it inspires you!

This post inspired me. I took some time over the last several days to create my own list, which I wrote in my journal. I like activities like this because it causes me to dream, and plan. I remember reading in Debbie Macomber's book Knit Together that she wrote down goals for herself and found that she was more likely to achieve the things she wrote down. She even made a list of 30 people she would like to meet and is amazed at how God has orchestrated her meeting many of those people! (She also learned to make a list of the 30 people God wants her to meet, but you'll have to read the book to discover how she learned that lesson!) Another book Write It Down, Make It Happen was based on the premise that we need to write down the things we want to happen in life. I have that book on order right now.

My list was fun to write. I encourage you to write one too. Even though I have seen some wonderful dreams come true for me in the last few years, I never want to stop dreaming because I know God won't quit exceeding my expectations beyond what I can ask or imagine. I love the anticipation of what's next and when I can go back and look at a dated list of when I first gave voice to my dreams, that helps me praise Him all the more!
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pumpkins On My Mind

Maybe it was the frost on my windshield yesterday morning or the leaves that are starting to pile up in our yard, but I can't deny that fall is upon us. And fall means pumpkins. When we homeschooled you could count on me bringing home a stack of pumpkin books and coming up with some pumpkin crafts. But time is at a premium around here with the kids in school, so instead I will find other ways to celebrate fall using my favorite orange gourds.

I am thinking of making a batch of these brownies. I will let you know how they turn out.

I heard a commercial on the radio advertising Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pancake mix for just $2.99 a bag. Am thinking that sounds like a great breakfast this weekend before we head to our favorite apple orchard to get apples and take some fall photos with our younger 3. I am putting a stop at Trader Joe's on my errand list for today.

And finally, my friend Christy (the same one who wrote this post) told me about a very cute party she is hosting at her house this weekend. She is having a pumpkin decorating party. Here is what she wrote to me about her plans:

We will have eight girls here. I have purchased the small
pumpkins: two white ones (my oldest wants to paint hers zebra stripe) and six
orange ones. I am going to have acrylic paints and brushes for them to
paint their pumpkin however they want to-- faces, favorite college team, just
let them be creative. This will be done outside on our porch on a card
table and our outdoor table that will be covered in newspaper. Then we
have a fire pit that my husband will have a fire going in and they
will do smores and probably play volleyball, very simple. I will have food
of course. They will take their pumpkins home. Some friends of ours
had a pumpkin carving party Saturday night and just had six couples over. We
each took an appetizer and our own pumpkin and carving kit and we had a contest.
Obviously I will not be having a carving contest w/preteens so this is our way
of having a pumpkin party safely...And still allow them to be creative.

Ok, now that sounds like one of the cutest parties ever!! I may have to scramble and do something similar with my kids next weekend.

Finally, I will still get out some pumpkin books to read at night with my little ones. This is one of our favorites that we pull out each year. Be sure to check your local library for books about pumpkins or I know Barnes and Noble had a huge selection when I was in there this weekend. Seems I am not the only one who gets into pumpkins.

Do you have something fun you like to do with pumpkins? I would love to hear your ideas!
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Monday, October 19, 2009

I Get To Do Laundry

This morning as I stood in front of my washing machine, taking clothes out to put in the dryer, I had a big smile on my face.

That's right. A smile.

Ok, ok, so I am not Pollyanna. I usually don't smile when I mess with the laundry. I usually look resigned, or sometimes even scowl. But this week I got an attitude adjustment when my washing machine went down in blaze of glory and a large puddle of water. I was worried we wouldn't be able to resuscitate it. Curt looked at comparable washers online and we were talking $900 to replace it.

I started praying. And, as silly as it sounds, I got other people to pray too.

I have been handling the whole "editing the book" thing pretty well-- decent attitude, not terrible stress. I was like the proverbial duck: looking calm gliding along the water, while frantically paddling underneath. But something about the washing machine going out was more than I could take. Remember the water that poured out of it? Well, my family used every towel in the house to soak up the gallons of water.

And then we had no way to wash them.

When I woke up the next morning and realized we had not a clean towel in the house, I just about cried. Seriously. It was the straw. I thought I might have a nervous breakdown over the washing machine. I thought to myself, "Who knew this would be the thing that tipped the scales?"

So I prayed more. I prayed that someone who knew about such things could come out right away. That that someone wouldn't pronounce the washer DOA and offer to haul it off. That he would tell me there was hope and a part on his truck that could bring it back to life.

And do you know, that's exactly what happened? Not only that but a friend called out of the blue and offered to come over and take my dirty nasty towels and wash them for me and bring them back-- soft and fluffy and folded. Normally I am one to turn down help of that nature but this time I said yes. And I hung up the phone and thanked God for prompting my friend to do that. Then I called her back and thanked her for being obedient enough to follow His prompting. I think a lot of times we feel prompted to do things like that and ignore it because we are busy or we think it sounds silly. I mean, she couldn't have known how much that meant to me at that particular moment! It was the difference between a nervous breakdown and a new outlook. She didn't know... but He did.

And so, this morning while I washed clothes with my working washing machine I smiled. Because I get to wash clothes. I get to gather up the dirty clothes my family generates by the truckload and put them in this wonderful, magic machine and have them come out clean and fresh smelling. It is a privilege, a gift.

Today I am washing clothes with joy. What ordinary task are you going to do today with joy? Look around with new eyes at what you get to do.
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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Help My Friend

My friend (and fellow Disney Mom Blogger) Jo-Lynne is in a contest and she needs your help! Go watch this very good video she posted and rank it to help a sista out!

I have to admit that at first I was like, "Oh, it's 6 minutes long-- I am not going to bother watching it." But then I got sucked in by how interesting it was. I have never seen someone make potato pancakes and she inspired me that I could do it!

So check it out, then post a ranking. Jo-Lynne sends her thanks to all of you who play along!
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Friday, October 16, 2009

Great Article by Randy Alcorn

I read "If You Were The Author, How Would You Have Written The Story" this morning while eating my bowl of cereal. It was really good and I thought you might like to read it too. If you are a writer, you will appreciate his thoughts about what makes a great story. And if you are just someone who is trying to understand why God allows bad things to happen, you will gain a lot from reading it. I know I will be pondering his points all day long.

You can find it here:

Scroll down to page 7 and take note that this is an excerpt from Randy's new book: If God Is Good. After reading this article, I intend to read this book!
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Suzy Homemaker Day

So how is my family life looking in the midst of these edits?

I was thinking of this this morning as I started off my day-- a day I have dubbed my "Suzy Homemaker Day." I decided to devote the whole day to my home and family. No writing other than this blog post and a few emails. The theory is that I will have done enough today to carry over to tomorrow while I spend some time writing and then go out with my hubby at night.

So, what does my Suzy Homemaker Day look like?

Well I got up and did laundry and dishes. (Always do-- that will be true tomorrow too.) Then I cut up some onions, potatoes and carrots into the crockpot and put a whole chicken on top to cook all day. I stuffed the chicken with fresh rosemary and bay leaves and sprinkled it liberally with a variety of seasonings-- just whatever looked good. I will serve the chicken, carrots and potatoes with some peas for an easy dinner tonight. I am also making an apple crisp for dessert. Yum-- a great fall meal!

While that whole chicken is cooking, I have another one on the burner simmering away in a pot of water. After about two hours, I will take the chicken out, shred the meat and strain the liquid, which is now chicken broth. I will put that in the fridge so that tomorrow morning all I have to do is throw the meat and broth in the crockpot (Yes, it is my friend and constant sidekick) in with the ingredients for white chili. So tomorrow night's meal is nearly taken care of by doing a little prep work today.

I also made a menu plan and a list of things we need from both Target and the grocery store. In just a few minutes I will be heading out (in the rain) to tackle both these lists and come home with enough groceries for all of next week. The new menu plan is on my fridge and waiting to be cooked each day. I like to work once, then not have to think later. This buys me time down the road, once again freeing me up to work on the editing I am doing. I try to start our meals in the morning (hence the constant crockpot use) and then know that dinner is basically done and my family won't be eating cold cereal. I write better without the nagging feeling of other things I should be doing hanging over my head.

Last night I was talking to someone who assumed that my family is living off pizza and Chinese takeout while I work through these edits. But I don't feel like they should have to and, with a little planning, they don't. My first priority is them and, by doing things to ensure that they are, I can still keep all the plates spinning. Do I get a little dizzy sometimes? Absolutely. On those nights we do order the $5 Domino's special. But thankfully those nights don't come along all that often and with God's help my house-- and my family-- keeps going as though nothing has changed. It just takes a few Suzy Homemaker days along the way. The funny thing is, I love these days as much as the really profitable writing days because it makes me feel like I am taking good care of my family-- something I want to always do, no matter what.
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Do The Work

If I am not around much these days, it's because I am in the middle of some pretty serious edits for my novel. I have about six weeks to get it completely ready to send in and believe me, I need every hour I have between now and then. This past weekend I lived at my parents' house, holed up in their spare bedroom writing, writing, writing. Morning turned to evening before I knew it. Time flies when you are trying to revise a whole book. I cut 20,000 words from the original manuscript and now my kindly, patient editor is looking at it again to give me further guidance. I am certain she has contacted the publisher to find out what kind of short straw she drew to get me!

Today I was having a serious crisis of faith-- did I have what it takes? Will this book ever be ready? Why oh why did I ever get started with all this and was it too late to take it back? I talked to my friend and She Reads partner, Ariel, via chat and sort of vomited all this yuck on her and she told me to shut up like any good friend would. :)

Then I went upstairs and got on my treadmill, taking the book A Novel Idea upstairs with me to read while I walked my stress away. (I highly recommend this book if you have ANY interest in writing novels, ever.) While I was reading it a verse quoted by Francine Rivers jumped off the page and froze me in my tracks:

I Chronicles 28:20, "Be strong and courageous and DO THE WORK (emphasis mine). Don't be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you." (NLT)

Here's what I wrote to Ariel in our chat after I got off the treadmill:

"It was like God was saying, 'Quit yer bellyaching and DO THE WORK and don't forget I will show up each time, making it better and better in the process. Not so you can boast about your abilities, but so you can boast in Me.'"

And then it gets even cooler. My friend Ariel wrote back that she had been praying specifically for me (after she told me to shut up of course) that God would have a little chat with me, as she put it. She knew that He had done the same for her during her editing process so she wanted me to hear directly from Him.

I share this story for two reasons: 1) If you have a friend who is struggling, pray for her. God answers those prayers. and 2) God will speak to you through His word. Sometimes He shouts, like He did with me. It was like those words DO THE WORK jumped off the page at me. I just needed to stop complaining and keep working.

So my new pep talk for myself goes something like this, "Just do the work and God will be with you." Maybe you needed to hear that today about something in your life. What work do you need to keep doing, no matter how discouraged and disheartened you get? I pray that you will see Him at work on your behalf today as you do the work He has called you to do.
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Friday, October 09, 2009

The Simple Things

What are these kids doing?? Why jumping on bubble wrap of course! We got a box with an abundance of bubble wrap inside so I turned them loose with it that afternoon. When the noise got too deafening, I sent them outside with it to bother the neighbors. They looked so happy I just had to capture their joy with these photos.

We tend to get caught up in all the "stuff" our kids want-- and the stuff we want to give our kids. But it's the simple things that sneak up and surprise us. The unexpected bubble wrap to jump on, the puddles to splash in, the joy of baking side by side and then eating our creations... the little life moments that add up to big memories. I want to be more intentional about appreciating those simple things that bring us simple joy.

What simple things are you looking forward to this weekend?

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Hearts At Home: Michigan

This weekend Curt and I traveled to Michigan to speak at the Hearts at Home conference in Grand Rapids. After we finished up there, we headed over to Fraser MI (a suburb of Detroit) to speak at St John's Lutheran on Sunday night. We got home on Monday afternoon. It was a fun and busy weekend. We met lots of nice people and really loved sharing our story of hope that living a financially free life really is possible with some determination and a plan.

Our lovely assistant snapped some photos of us and the audience while we were speaking. Here I am talking. Can you tell I talk with my hands?

Here is a crowd shot. Can you spot the woman yawning? I feel certain she just stayed up late talking to her friends the night before and it wasn't us boring her! :)

I liked this shot because they are writing down what we say. That never happens at home.

Here are two lovely ladies checking out our book.

Here I am with two of my P31 sistas, Shari Braendel and Karen Ehman. Love these girls and loved spending time with them this weekend! Curt was such a good sport as he basically spent the weekend with 1500 women. He was ready for a dose of Monday night football when we got home!

Had to capture Shari and her assistant Patti talking to the women about fashion. Shari has a unique ministry and it shows in the never-ending lines at her table. Women want to feel beautiful and she shows them how! I didn't get a photo of the women swarming Karen's table for her "Brain in a Binder" kits she sells. When her workshop is over it's like the NYSE trading floor as the women scramble to take home this great organizational tool!

And we had to get a shot of us with the Go Fish guys. Our kids went to their VBS this summer and think they are SO cool. We wanted them to think we were cool too by default. Hence the picture.
If you are looking for some great music to play for your kids, check out Go Fish's cd's and if your church is looking for an awesome VBS experience for next summer, check out their curriculum.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Chore Charts and Caramel Apples

How's that for a blog post title?

Check out our financial blog for two new posts: a recipe for caramel apple dip (a fun family activity that's not expensive) and an explanation of how we do chores at our house.

Go to
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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The First Mile

I lumber up the hill, my legs screaming, my heart threatening to beat out of my chest. Every muscle in me protests as I continue—mind over matter—one dogged step after another. I am no longer running as I did when I left my house with the fresh start of a new challenge. I am much slower, less confident, and even less committed than I was as I sprinted down my driveway. “I could turn around now,” I tell myself. “And just stop this nonsense.”

And then a phrase enters my mind, something a friend of mine said to me days earlier. “The first mile is the hardest.” She used to run marathons so she should know. Just get through the first mile, she coached me, and you can make it the rest of the way. With her words in mind, I keep going, determined to go the distance.

Later that day I talk to my friend, the former marathon runner. She is now a mother of four little boys ages 6 and under, running a different kind of marathon. Her days are filled, as mine once were, with demands and needs that seem to never end. Bottles and diapers and tantrums and sleep deprivation define her routine.

She listens to me describe my day—the flexibility to leave the house and go for a run uninhibited, the freedom to run some errands while my older children stay at home with the younger ones, regular date nights with my husband, the reduced workload that comes from having children who are all pretty self-sufficient. She sighs. “Your life sounds so nice,” she says wistfully.

“The first mile is the hardest,” I say, repeating her words back to her, surprising us both. I realize even as I say it that what I am saying is true: difficult first miles aren’t exclusive to marathon runners. They are part of motherhood as well.

“It will get easier,” I tell my friend. Just as she coached me in running I can coach her in motherhood. I have run along the same path she is now on. I know the exhaustion and stress coupled with exhilaration she feels each day. I know what it means to come to the end of yourself over and over again. I know how endlessly the days stretch out ahead of her—just like the endless road that stretched out ahead of me as I ran.

“It doesn’t seem like it,” she responds, a little ironic laugh escaping her lips.

“I know,” I say. Because I do. “But I promise, this too shall pass. And one day you will realize that it was all worth it. The hard work, the long hours, the bodily fluids, the noise. You will look at these people—whole, wonderful people—you produced. You will see their talents, hear their humor, delight in their completeness and you will know that the first mile was the hardest. But the run did get easier. And as you near the finish line, you will think—I promise you, you will—that the run wasn’t that bad. And you will almost wish you could do it again. By then you won’t be the same as when you started but, amazingly, you will be better.”

Her baby starts to cry as he wakes from his nap. Her boys are fighting, their screams making it hard for us to talk over the din. “I better go,” she says reluctantly.

Hang in there, I tell her before we go. She promises that she will. I promise her that I am glad I did. As the dial tone buzzes in my ear, I know that she believes me. I smile as I think of her bravely running one more mile.
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Monday, October 05, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Monday) Chick Fil A (Kids eat free night!)

Tuesday) Bacon and egg sandwiches, fruit

Wednesday) Pork chops on the grill, stuffing, corn

Thursday) Country Style Steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans

Friday) Baked Chicken, rice pilaf, steamed broccoli
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Friday, October 02, 2009

Slow Burn by Mary DeMuth

Instead of reviewing the book Slow Burn by my friend Mary DeMuth, I opted to participate in her blog tour by completing a writing assignment on the theme of a time I witnessed sacrificial love. I thought and thought of a big example-- something weighty and poignant.

I came up with nothing.

And then it dawned on me. I witness sacrificial love every day when I watch my husband. He's not perfect and sometimes he makes me so stinking mad I could pinch him. (Just keeping it real.) But at the heart of everything he does and everything he is is that word: sacrifice.

From getting up early in the morning to help get kids to school. To dressing and driving an hour commute to work when many days he doesn't feel like it. To working all day to support us when I know he has dreams he'd like to be chasing. To coming home to roll up his sleeves and help with dinner, and baths, and clean up and homework and bedtime routines. To getting an inexpensive car when he really wants a nice one... just so our family can stay financially secure. To spending an entire Saturday changing out the insides of a toilet or stripping wallpaper and painting a bathroom. To getting in the car again to drive yet another child somewhere when he is so tired. To loving on his kids when what he really wants is to just be left alone... I see sacrifice. I see him laying down what he desires for the good of those he loves.

It turns out I didn't have to look into the distant past or beyond my own home to see a beautiful example of sacrificial love. It is played out every day right in front of my eyes. May God grant me the eyes to always see, to never forget and to remember those two oh-so-important words I know he'd like to hear more often: thanks honey.

Be sure to check out Mary's book, A Slow Burn. It's the second in a series. We chose the first book Daisy Chain, as our She Reads pick. You can head over to to learn more about Mary and her writing.
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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Woo Hoo!

My dear friend and She Reads partner Ariel Allison's book officially releases today! You might recognize her book, eye of the god, because it's one of our She Reads picks for fall. (And for the record, I had already picked it before I coerced her into helping me out with She Reads.) Please check out her interview over at Novel Journey today. It will give you some great insight into the life of a writer mom. You will love Ariel! I know I do!!
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The One Year Book of Inspiration For Girlfriends Review

I got this book through Tyndale's book review blog network, thinking it looked like something I might like. I am very choosy about what I agree to review, but this one looked worthwhile. It might just be the toppled over Starbucks drink cup that resonated with me.

Even though the book begins with daily readings starting in January, I just flipped to the September date it arrived on and began reading and it worked just fine. I have to say that this book would make a nice gift for a friend-- especially a friend who is "juggling not-so-perfect, often-crazy, but gloriously real" life, as the subtitle says. So since we have less than 90 days of shopping left for Christmas, make a note somewhere to put this on your list of gift ideas.

While I wouldn't call this book a devotion and wouldn't use it for a full-fledged quiet time, I have enjoyed the short daily readings and it is great to glean from if you are, like many of us, on the run. Interspersed throughout the book are pages that offer the reader a place to respond on a personal level. I like how interactive this feature made the book. I also like that this is one of those books that began as a daily blog called Truth Nuggets-- the author's way of encouraging her friends that grew in popularity and a publishing deal came out of it.

You can find the author at and you can find the book at this link. A cute journal, a nice pen, and a copy of the book would make a nice gift for a special girlfriend in your life!
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