Archive of ‘Life’ category

Marriage is…

If you are a Sex in the City fan, like me, you might remember the little episode where Carrie has writer’s block. She is so desperate for a story that she contemplates writing a comparison between French fries and men.

That episode reminds me of where I am right now. I am deep into writer’s block and actually wrote a post about my quest for a new can opener that actually works. That is what we call ‘First World Problems’, people. Fortunately for you (and me), I wrote that one in my head and not in pixels.

Instead, below is a a post that I first wrote in 2010. It may be old but it is still relevant today. And, it’s one of my most popular posts entitled Marriage Is…

* * * * * *

Marriage is…grocery shopping together to save a buck
Marriage is…vacuuming the carpet
Marriage is…emptying the dishwasher, then refilling it
Marriage is…taking turns cooking dinner
Marriage is…putting the kids to bed, tag-team style
Marriage is…balancing the checkbook and paying bills
Marriage is…respecting each others requests
Marriage is…when the dryer dies and the mini van needs brakes
Marriage is…sharing your hopes and dreams with someone
Marriage is…sharing in the homework chore with the kids
Marriage is…putting your money together for the common good
Marriage is…listening when the other person talks
Marriage is…really listening
Marriage is…hanging out on the front porch on the swing
Marriage is…running to the store to pick up milk, late at night
Marriage is…watching your kids play, together
Marriage is…sharing in the disciple of the kids
Marriage is…faith in the future
Marriage is…growing old together
Marriage is…changing and growing together
Marriage is…emotionally supporting of another person
Marriage is…having someone to let off steam to
Marriage is...loving someone, even when they are not at their best
Marriage is…having someone to kiss everyday
Marriage is…we, not I

Marriage is…not always pretty and romantic. It’s not what you imagined. It’s not always happy days and passionate nights. It ebbs and flows with life. It’s valleys and hills. It’s a roller coaster ride…with laughing, crying and some screaming. Don’t disrespect it. Don’t take it for granted. Celebrate it. Enjoy it.

* * * * * *

Some great additions from reader comments:

  • Love is a choice
  • Marriage is a choice
  • Great understanding makes a great marriage
  • Great sex doesn’t hurt
  • Marriage is not all bliss, all the time

Whether you are married or not, what would you add to the list? After almost 20 years of marriage I would add, marriage is a marathon. Pace yourself. You will get exhausted and want to quit, but you have to push on to find your stride.

 

For Strong Women Everywhere

This post is dedicated to strong women everywhere…and one in particular…my mom. She is many things, including caring, strong and beautiful, but possibly her greatest trait is her deep spiritual relationship and trust she puts in the Lord. When the day comes that she meets Jesus, he will have her wings ready and waiting for her.

…29 Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all. 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. 31 Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.” Proverbs 31:29-31

In this world it is easy to become enslaved to upholding worldly appearances of fame, fortune, and beauty. We work hard to make our outsides look more beautiful while our insides rot away with sin. Outwardly beauty and charm will only get you so far in this life, and this life is like “a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” [James 4:14]

My friends, our days are numbered here on earth, each one is a blessing. Find joy and kindness in your days. Once we are gone from this earth, it is not the end; there is an eternity waiting for us.

How we prepare for it during our time here on earth will determine what kind of eternity we enjoy.

Ladies, you are strong and amazing and beautiful. Seek the One that matters most, and your inner strength and beauty will radiate outward; this cannot be matched by fame, fortune, or physical beauty.

Work to develop your character and relationship with the Lord. This matters much more than anything material of this earth. Have a blessed weekend.

LINKING UP | Holley Gerth’s Coffee for Your Heart and Faith Barista’s WhiteSpace. Please check out these amazing women who are sharing their heart and love for Jesus on their blogs.

The Truth of Unhappy People

Unhappy quote

Unhappy people will never be happy with anything you say or do. Really. It’s a truth of unhappy people.

No matter how hard you try, unhappy people will criticize your weight, labeling you fat, thin, too thin. Unhappy people will find fault with your parenting choices. Unhappy people won’t like the outfit you are wearing today.

Unhappy people will call you uncool, a geek, a slut, a snob, or a {insert word here}. Unhappy people will find the positive quote that you post on Instagram anything but positive. And they’ll let you know they are unhappy about it.

In an attempt to make themselves feel better, unhappy people will take to Facebook, ranting and spreading lies about you. As they say, misery loves company.

ANOTHER TRUTH: Unhappy people are happy being unhappy. Unhappy people are incapable of seeing the brighter side of life…therefore, they are unhappy.

So, take a page from Kelly Clarkson when she was confronted with one unhappy bully, and say, “Screw them!”

Be happy. Be you. Be happy with your life, right where you are. You can’t change unhappy people, you are only in control of your happiness.

So, go. Be happy. Live a good life. Let them keep their unhappiness. You don’t need it anyway. You’ve got things to do.

Nothing but Positive Things to Think About

Now that I have given up social media (FB, Twitter and Google+) cold turkey I needed a little something to satisfy my mindless surfing and some positive things to think about. I can’t quit the internet all at once, ya know.

I am tiny house obsessed. Maybe it’s the purging instincts in me. And, if it weren’t for my 2 kids, husband, poodle, black lab and the abundance of crap we have, it would be totally doable. Until the kids move out I will have to settle for living vicariously through Livin’ Lightly. This family of three sold mostly everything they owned and moved into an Airstream trailer and are now in search of a simple and intentional life. Plus, also, their baby is named Paisley! Seriously cute.

This is one example of why I quite Twitter.  Curt Schilling is a former baseball player for the Red Sox. He blogs as 38Pitches. He works to raise awareness for ALS and Malignant Melanoma. And, this week he got caught in the crosshairs of some Trolls when he tweeted a seemingly innocent congratulations to his daughter. He fought back…hard! I don’t know much about baseball, but I know this dad hit it out of the park with his post against cyberbullies! Seriously, read Schilling’s response in defense of his daughter.

Thor

Totally random photo of my black lab, Thor. He loves the snow.

The Hip Paris Blog. I know it’s a total cliché to romanticize Paris but still…the Eiffel Tower. And Brie. And espresso. That’s all. (Again, living vicariously.)

And because I love squirrels…especially these red Russians squirrels. Bored Panda is a little place on the blogashere I just discovered. It’s just a fun place to waste a lot of time looking at beautiful photographs.

My Jesus Project. Have you heard about what Christian Piatt is doing? Well, I’ll let him explain, “For the next year, I’m doing a sort of “human experiment” project in which I try to figure out what it really means to follow Jesus in the 21st century western world.” In this project, Piatt is asking the important question, “What does it mean to really follow Jesus?” Which, I think, all Christians are on that journey. We are figuring it out as we go. Our Church, Christian speakers, faith books, and religious blogs try to tell us what that means. But, in this modern, tech-obsessed world, do any of us really-really know what it means anymore? The journey starts here.

Icicles

Another totally random photo. The huge icicles hanging off the house this week.

 I just finished reading the book “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon. It actually didn’t take long to read…it’s only 140 pages. The reason I bought the book was, not so I could learn to steal art, because of this quote:

steal like an artist quote

So, there’s that.

Everyday Lens of Life

It’s been life moving way too fast around here. I just say, slow down already. Captured here is everyday lens of life.

Parker-Nerd

This girl really wants to wear glasses…

SONY DSC

And this girl officially became a teenager.

Alex-StockShow

Love me some goats!

SONY DSC

Getting ready for a free throw!

Parker-Ears

Brave little girl got her ears pierced.

Parker-Ears2

1, 2, 3…

squirrel

And this guy stealing bird seed from the feeder.

Which reminds me, I need to get some peanuts for my homemade squirrel feeder. Squirrels need love too.

My Big Fat Lesson in Internet Safety

I have been living with a teenager for a week now and it has been an education. As in, a big fat lesson in internet safety. Some of you may have been there, done that, but for me, it’s my first time to this rodeo. And this rodeo just kicked me in my butt!

We live in a visually stimulated culture. As if you didn’t know that. Everywhere you turn, sex sells things from shampoo to cheeseburgers. Pop stars are hyper-sexual in their lyrics, dressing, and videos.

So, it shouldn’t be shocking when my teenager sees sexual images online, whether intentional or by accident.

Yet. It is.

Gone are the days of finding a Playboy under their mattress. It’s so much more scary. There are real sickos out there, just waiting for our teens to take the bait on the internet.

Serious sickos.

Our kids can Google something seemingly innocent and porn will pop up on the screen. They can be curious about a website and get more than an eye full. They can give out too much personal information and open themselves up to an online predator.

Besides the constant enforcing of internet rules, what else can we do to help my teen navigate the internet? By using protection. Protection in the form of big, bad parental controls.

A quick Google search finds a lot of information on the subject of Parental Controls. Programs one can install that will track keystrokes, take screen shots every so often, social media controls/blocking, help prevent cyber-bullying, and password controlled programs. 

A couple of highly useful articles I found for those of us who are new at this are Digital Trends and Top 10 Reviews on Internet Filter Software. And, if you want to freak your kids out read this story about the dangers of sharing too much information online.

One thing I know for sure? Get it. Install it. Learn it. Use it.

Okay, that’s four things. 

Also. Something else happened. Let’s call this one a temporary lapse in judgement, or who-are-you-and-what-have-you-done-with-my-kid.

Trust was tested. 

Did I mention it’s only been a week?

She’s still learning and growing up. I am still learning to parent a teenager.

Just like when I held her for the first time…I admit I still don’t know what I am doing. I am still learning how to do this parenting thing. Gone are the days of time-outs. Now it’s grounding and removal of technology, which is like taking away air.

This week, living with a teenager has been a series of take-a-deep-breath-count-to-ten moments that make me think I have seriously screwed up. We are both learning together.

At least she hasn’t knocked over a gas station yet, so maybe it’s not so bad. Right?

LINKING UP | Holley Gerth, Coffee for Your Heart

Take Stock in the Here and Now

We are one month into 2015. Thirty-three days of resolutions, one words, plans, and lists.  It’s a good time to take stock in the here and now.

And, the here and now is winter. Just when I was thinking spring was just around the corner with 70º degree weather, Mother Nature slapped us in the face with 8″ of snow this past weekend. Old Punxsutawney Phil spotted his shadow, so it’s official, another six long weeks until spring.

The term taking stock originates from ‘stock taking’ when farmers in the ye ‘ol days counted their stock, equipment, tools, etc. They took inventory of their assets. Taking stock can also mean assessing ones life to decide what to do next (which is what I think Phil is actually doing); or taking stock by counting ones blessings in life.

Taking Stock

I am pausing for a moment and taking stock in all the little blessings that may go unnoticed day-by-day.

Loving: Parker being so creative and sweet and thoughtful and silly and loving and…just wants to have a sewing day with mom only. I am cherishing this before she grows up and doesn’t think I am the coolest person to hang out with on a cold winter day.

Needing: An acupuncture treatment for dog allergies. Seriously.

Meeting: Friends at Starbucks to give blog advice and chat. Really, wonderful.

Creating & Sewing: Planning to sew new pillow cases. I have a long to-sew-list for 2015. But, before that I used Alex’s old t-shirts to make a few throw pillows (pictured above).

Link loving: #Create inspiration: Simply Me // My Art Journal // Oh Happy Day // Brave Girls Club

Watching: Alex playing basketball for the first time. I haven’t been this teary-eyed since she last competed at figure skating. Why do I do that? A good friend is her coach. So loving that, too.

Sharing: I am sharing a story for an e-book that a fellow blogger is working on. Lord willing there will be more news about that in the coming months. The Lord is blessing this woman in many ways!

Struggling: What do I write and do next? What is Your plan for me, Lord? I could use a clue right about now. Thanks so much. Amen.

Eating: More fruit in winter. And coffee.

Reading: My goal is to read one book a month. Check The Red Tent off the list. I highly recommend it, too. We are reading Junie B. Jones with Parker. We have read all of the book series with Alex, now it is Parker’s turn. And, I have started Gone Girl.

Planning: Alex’s 13th birthday celebration this week. She’ll officially be a teenager, even though I have been calling her a teen for the past six months.

So, what are you taking stock in?

When Insecurities and the Messy Middle Collide

It’s the kind of thing that leaves my fingers frozen on the keyboard, staring at a blank screen. It’s when insecurities and the messy middle collide that has me stopped cold, not knowing what to do next.

These are days when I believe my story is not big enough, or brave enough, or tragedy-to-redemption enough. It’s just vanilla.

There’s nothing wrong with vanilla. I love vanilla, especially when it’s in the form of ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce, but vanilla is predictable. It’s perceived as ordinary, boring, safe. It is the crowd pleaser. Most people like it, but it’s not going to change the world, shake things up.

And, even though I worked hard last year, writing, networking, researching, I still doubt. This writing thing? Does it really matter? Does anyone, besides my mom, really care?

That doubting voice is working hard like it is her job. “Nobody wants to read vanilla.”, she says.

So, the doubting voice is there. Then there is the messy middle. It is when you have too much time, and sometimes money, invested to give up on your plan/goal, but you are not sure what to do next.

It’s when you set goals, lofty goals, and met them, but you forgot to plan what to do after that point. It’s like when you hit a plateau in weight loss. You’re trying like heck on the treadmill but all you’re doing is wearing out your shoes, the scale not moving.

Both are equally frustrating but when the two meet? Houston, we have a problem.

That’s where I am at right now. The insecurity of the messy middle. Doubting myself and this plan. Is it His plan too? Is the plan worth pursuing?

There will always be doubt…it stinks to be human sometimes, but the doubt shouldn’t be crushing.

Psalm 56: 3-4
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?

Don’t fear the messy middle. Pray, then keep moving through it.

My dream is not someone else’s dream. It’s unique to me. Yours is unique to you. Believe that. Trust your gut and trudge through the messy middle. When insecurities make themselves at home, kick them out and move on.

At least that is what I am telling myself.

Read More Books This Year Challenge

My daughter has to read a lot of books in middle school. This school year, which has only been 5 months, she has read 10 Books! Last year, I read 5 books.

FIVE.

I read a lot but lately, not a lot of books. I recently discovered Jon Acuff’s blog. He has a little challenge for us book challenged…read more books this year than you did last year.

book challenge

Photo background: StockVault

Read more than 5 books? Sure! I got this…right?

Your challenge, if you choose to accept it: head over to Jon’s blog to get tips to make your 2015 book challenge a success.

Then, I suggest making yourself comfy…curl up on the sofa with a blanket and get started!

One more thing. I never feel guilty for not finishing a book that I hate. If I can’t get into it, I put it down and move on to the next book. Which always makes me wonder why kids are forced to read books in school that they hate. Doesn’t seem to foster a love of reading. Reading shouldn’t be torture.

I am taking the challenge. How about you?

January’s books: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, and I will be reading to Parker The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

One Year Blogging Here

Someone brilliant once said, “You never know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.”

The beginning of the year is the perfect time to look back on the year gone by. Looking back gives us a moment to remember what great things we achieved, what we still need to work on, what mistakes we don’t want to repeat, and what we see ourselves doing in the new year.

For me, 2014 was all about leaping, blogging, and finding my voice. It was a thrilling, and sometimes frustrating, year of blogging. Moving from a free WordPress blog to a self-hosted blog with a custom URL was a huge LEAP of faith. It was as much work as I thought it would be, and then some. There were days when I wondered what I had got myself into. It was a huge learning curve. 

Blog maintenance was a big time sucker. Oh, how I miss the days of WordPress doing all the work of staying on top of plug-in updates, broken links, and spam control. I estimated I spent 50 hours on maintenance, but that is probably a low guess. There was the time I went months with little maintenance, then BOOM…I had 200 broken links that needed to be fixed after an update was installed. Learning curve.

Happily, I reached all my blogging goals for the year, including, a new blog design and logo design, learning some HTML coding, adding affiliate advertisers, and becoming a member of BlogHer Network. I know the numbers above don’t mean much in the blog world. But, compared to 2013, my organic page views almost tripled in 2014. 

I learned a lot about you too. Turns out three of my top five blog posts were about craft projects. The other two were faith based posts. Interesting.

I took on a variety of new projects and writing assignments. I connected with some really awesome bloggers around the world, some of whom I will be collaborating on blogging projects in the near future (The Warrior and the Flower). I also used the necessary evil called Social Media a lot more. And, I consumed an unknown amount of coffee. I’ve got myself a bit of an addiction.

I also launched Small Seeds, featuring bloggers who are growing in faith and compassion. I don’t know where this will take me, but I am continuing to pray about this aspect of the blog.

My whole-hearted thanks to all of you who continue to read my blog. I hope that you have found inspiration here, and continue to do so. I ultimately blog for myself, but when I see your comments and page views, I won’t lie, I feel all warm inside. Because of you too, we raised money for charities that help those in need and spread the Word of Christ. And, thanks to the inspiring faith bloggers out there (Holley Gerth, We Are That Family, Chatting at the Sky, & Faith Barista). You ladies rock!

Still leaping. I am far from knowing everything there is to know about running a blog, so I will continue to learn, grow, and, of course, leap. But for now, it’s time to focus on other aspects of my creative life, which will involve choosing my One Word for 2015.

Yep, I’ve got mine chosen, but I will reveal that after January 1st. Do you have yours?

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