Happy… Halloween?

I’ve been about as visible as a ghost here on the blog over the past couple of months.  Since it’s Halloween (Yikes!  Where did October go?!), I thought I would pop in and share my seasonal decor.  We’re not much into decorating for Halloween around here, but I do love pumpkins.  I’ve been meaning to follow up on a few requests I’ve had to post pictures of our house this time of year, so here goes…
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It seems like I’m always doing dishes, so this tiny blue velvet pumpkin brings a little smile to my face.  It sits on a windowsill right behind my sink.

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For the past year or so I had been on the hunt for an antique dough bowl that was just the right size for my dining table.  Finally found one in a tiny town about a half hour from home.  It was a gift from my hubby on my birthday, so it holds sentimental value as well.  Soon after finding it, I saw that Pottery Barn and Ballard Designs have begun selling them as well.  Vintage is almost always better in my book, not that I’m opposed to catalog shopping…

 

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Pumpkins en masse seem to be the theme around here.

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The lighting in our dining room makes it very hard to photograph well for a novice like me.  Awhile back I posted a picture on Instagram of some changes I finally decided to make to our hutch and I’ve tried a few times to take pictures and have never been happy with them. I’ve been wanting to take an online photography class for years now.  I think I’m finally going to go for it!

 

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Every time I look at these pumpkins perched on a stack of cookbooks I covered in wrapping paper from Homegoods, I think of that nursery rhyme.  “Three little pumpkins sitting on a fence…”  Once a preschool Mom, always a preschool Mom.  I kinda miss those days.

 

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The right side of the hutch.  I made the plate stand with a single place setting of gold dipped flatware from Anthropologie that I couldn’t pass up.  I held the fork and the spoon together with a little removable blue putty and wrapped them in silver thread.  That dish of corks could tell some stories of family and friends gathered around the table and simple, relaxed evenings enjoyed with my hubby.  I’m all about memories on display, celebrating life’s simple pleasures.

Join me in the family room, won’t you?

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I have a new obsession with Spark Modern pillows on Etsy.  Great fabrics, fast turnaround, and quality workmanship.  You may remember that I changed the look of our family room with blue pillows at the beginning of the summer (you can see that look here).  Blue was fresh, but when Autumn asked me for a new color scheme, I had to oblige.  The deliciously soft throw on the arm of the chair was a sale find at Anthropologie.

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I found this little planter at the same antique store that I got the dough bowl.  I’m not normally a fan of terra cotta that hasn’t found it’s natural aged patina, but the shape is fantastic.  There may be some paint involved in the spring … I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve to repurpose this fun find.

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White pumpkins and seeded eucalyptus are my favorite go-to’s for autumn.  You can see more of my obsession with seeded eucalyptus on Instagram.
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Speaking of more… more pillows from Spark Modern!  I told you I’m obsessed.  Look carefully and you’ll see a pop of orange carried over into the kitchen.

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The sun decided to make a brief appearance and magnify the bright hues of the season.  Not that I’m complaining… it’s a blustery Halloween.  Hope yours is a fun one!

Thanks for stopping by!
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monogram hat diy

The school year has started for us (THRILLED to share that we are off to a great start!!)  … but that doesn’t mean the summer fun has ended.  Tonight our church youth group is hosting a kids v. adults kickball match.  Breaking out my sweatpants!  #80′sflashback

Kidding about the sweatpants.  Monograms are more my style.  I don’t think I’ll be much of an asset to the team (leave that to the men), but I was able to complete a little something to wear for the occasion that has been on my mind for a while now — a monogrammed baseball cap.  Fashion first!

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When I get a project in my head, it consumes me until I’m able to bring it to completion.  I didn’t want to purchase a monogrammed hat online because, quite frankly, I don’t love how I look in a lot of hats.  Bummer to have one customized then never wear it.  I have searched multiple stores and online for the right size iron-on letters in a font I like and have come up empty handed.  So I decided to create my own.  I found a plain black baseball cap at Hobby Lobby for under $5.  At that price, it doesn’t matter how much or how little I wear it.  I had very little to lose with this diy!

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Side note:  Sooo my hat needs a lint roller.  And, a pointed tip sharp pair of scissors makes this job much easier.  I love this pair from Martha Stewart that I found at Hobby Lobby so much that I labelled them with washi tape so that they don’t disappear or get used for anything other than paper.

I created the letters in Microsoft Word using Word Art (just choose Simple block letters, Word Art Style 1).  I played around a lot with the fonts, but in the end chose PT Sans Caption because I thought it worked out best with my particular monogram.  I used a 96 point font, but resized the word art so that the center initial was about three inches high.  After I printed it onto the fabric transfer paper, I simply penned in a very subtle kick and roundness to the bottom of the letters to amp up the style a bit.

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Note that when you use this particular fusible fabric, you do not need to create a mirror image of your letters; you can just print them normally.  After you print the word art, you will cut around the letters and iron them directly to your hat … no peeling necessary as with other products.  Nor do you have the funky shiny look that you get with regular iron-on transfers.

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Ironing the letters to the rounded baseball cap was easier than you might think.  I put a cereal bowl behind the hat to give it a more solid surface.  I then positioned the letter and used the tip of my iron to adhere it in place (this only took a second) before using more of the hot iron surface to secure the letter permanently (another 10-15 seconds).  Time will tell how long it will hold up, but for the price I’ll live with the uncertainty.

Every once in awhile DIY is the fastest, easiest way to get the look you are after.  This makes me wonder, how many more DIY projects are in my future this school year?  Could be fun…

Happy Labor Day weekend!

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how to (stylishly) hide electrical cords

Electrical cords can be such an eyesore.  Lately I’ve been on a kick to deal with these little details that can ruin the look of a beautiful room.

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I love the over scaled look of these lamps (found here), but do not love seeing the cords run catywampus across the back of my sofa. My solution?  Simple Velcro reusable ties that can be found at home improvement stores like Lowes.  For this project, I wrapped black 8″ x 1/2″ ties around the legs of the console to secure my cords and keep them out of sight.

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Almost every time I sat down to watch tv, I found my eyes wandering to an exposed black cord beneath our console. One day I was wandering through Anthropologie and it hit me – jute!  It took all of five minutes to wrap that bothersome cord.  Is it strange that this look makes me purely happy?  It’s very organic and now I want to wrap every exposed cord in my house in jute.

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Recently I purchased this sweet and petite lamp.  I have long since adored the soft glow of a small lamp in the kitchen, so I was thrilled when I found it.  (Bonus: each of my guys has commented how much they like it, too :)  The cord was black and too long, but Husband quickly snipped it shorter and I grabbed a roll of kitchen twine and wrapped it up to conceal it.  More happiness.

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I need to paint the switch and plug white, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.  For now, I cheated and made the black and white look appear intentional by wrapping a plant pot similarly.  Band-aid fixes never sit well with me for long, so I’m moving this project up on my priority list.

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Tending to these little details adds an extra level of finesse and style to a room’s decor.  It’s the little things that make me happy!

Thanks for stopping by!

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how to set limits on older kids’ screen time

We’ve all heard the lectures about limiting screen time for our children — about the negative affects of violent video games (loss of empathy being the most compelling to me), about childhood obesity and the moral decline of our society.  If you are a parent, your pediatrician has probably handed you written information on the topic since your child’s six month well-check.  Limiting screen time for younger children is pretty simple.  You say no and you hide the remote, get out a basket of toys, and if you are properly motivated, you get down on the floor and engage with your child in imaginative play.  It seems hard at the time because there are just so many things that need to get done that parking your kiddo in front of the tube seems like your easiest route to productivity or – for crying out loud – a Mommy Time Out.  I’ve been there!  “Been” being the operative word.  But what about limiting screen time when your children get older?

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I’m not going to lie.  Our family spends more than an ample amount of time in front of screens.  Odds are yours does, too.  It leaves me feeling dissatisfied and I can tell my boys feel the same.  The allure of those screens can and does wear out, presenting a mother with the perfect time to strike up a new routine.  We’ve hit that point in the summer that we’re coasting along in our relaxed routine and I just know that it’s time to shake things up.  So I did a little Internet surfing to see what other parents are doing to limit screen time, with a focus on upper elementary age and older.  Here’s what caught my eye.

1.  Make gradual changes.  I’ll admit to dreaming of cutting off cable tv altogether.  An article I found on webmd suggested purposefully cutting back even an hour a week.  One potential way to do this is to eliminate tv during meals (which we rarely do anyway) and all screens for an hour before going to bed.  Reading before bed sounds great, but reading to your children, no matter what age, is even sweeter.  I’m planning to choose a classic to read to my boys.  This is something we have enjoyed in the past, but is not a part of our regular routine by a long shot. If you are thinking, like I have in the past, that your kids just wouldn’t get into it or are too old for that, I dare you to give it a try.  I sit in the hallway outside of my boys’ bedrooms and read to them while they are in their rooms.  They can be quietly doing other things while they are listening; I don’t care.  I found that when I approached reading to them in this relaxed manner, they relaxed too, and really got into it.  (Side note — our youngest is a reluctant non-fiction reader, but he loves when I read stories to him.  You bet I’ll give my time to share good literature with him!)  Another idea I had was to listen to a classic on CD as a family – something that would provoke discussion.  My husband plans to listen to 1984 by George Orwell on a road trip he has planned with our 16 year old.  For more on reading at all ages, listen to this podcast on becoming a lifelong learner.  I found it very inspiring!

2.  Provide alternatives to screen time.  When we’re on autopilot in our relaxed summer routine, we can get stumped for ideas to break out of our rut.  Last night I had my boys turn off all screens at 5:00 and find other things to do.  I told them I wanted a list of 10 alternatives to screen time from each of them before they went to bed.  This morning it occurs to me that I never got their lists; they were too busy shooting hoops and playing cards (Middle taught us how to play Golf.  It’s fun!) and having a ping pong tournament with us to bother.  Have board games available and be willing to play along (one of the tips I found frequently is to limit your own screen time and set a proper example).  Set out a puzzle and offer a prize or bragging rights for the person who places the final piece.  Start a running game of Cribbage that you can put down and pick back up again.  Again, replacing just 15-30 minutes of screen time a day with a family building activity creates closer bonds and stronger families.  Little by little good things happen.

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 A little healthy competition among family is fun.  After nine holes of “golf,” I was beat!

3.  Allow your children to plan their screen time.  Tell them there will be limits, tell them why, and give them the power to choose when they will have screen time.  Let them DVR television shows they enjoy, negotiate a gaming schedule with their siblings if necessary, then make sure to follow through with the plan.  Can you hear my desire for boundaries and routine?  It must be time for school to start soon because my biological clock is ticking!

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 I found this fun box at Homegoods.  It’s perfect for storing a couple of decks of cards.

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4.  Stand firm and be consistent.  You may not be the most popular person in the house for setting limits on your children’s freedom in screen time, but you must remember that you are the parent and you make the house rules.  I’m not a big fan of barking orders at my kids just to be in control.  Few people like a dictator, but no matter how much they may deny it, children crave a leader.  They crave boundaries.  Making gradual changes, providing fun family-bonding alternatives to screen time, and giving your kids a say in how they use their screen time seems to me a great way to tip the gluttony scale to one of more balance.  Let’s face it — screens are a part of our lives.  But they don’t have to dominate our time.  I’m challenging myself to put these tips into practice over these last weeks of summer. Lifelong happy memories aren’t made on Xbox, and summer is short.  And if you need any more motivation to make what matters happen, go watch this video.  You only get 16 summers.

how to find God’s will for your life

I’ve been an absent blogger.  I laid my struggles with a few areas of personal defeat candidly before you (read the several posts below), and then I disappeared from the blogosphere.  My disappearance was not at all my intention.  It just sort of happened.  Summer has pulled me to and fro as I have wrestled with some of the same issues of my physical self over and over again in different ways.  Looking back on the past month, I can see that God has been so readily at work in my wrestling nature and I think I’m ready to blog again.  This time, I’m getting right down to it with a post titled “how to find God’s will for your life.”  Not that I have this totally figured out, but I think I’m onto something good.  God has dropped many opportunities and ideas and bits of encouragement into my lap over this past month in particular.  As I have put it all together, I think I have something to share that I hope will resonate with you… because I know that this question of God’s will for our life is a pertinent one that many of us ask and wrestle over to one degree or another.

First, let me confess that moving forward in God’s will has been a MIGHTY BIG stumbling block for me.  What if I’m off track?  What if I make the wrong choice?  What if I miss His will altogether?  I’ve been pretty forthright with you about my issue of feeling STUCK in so many areas of my life.  I can attribute this struggle to my over analytic nature, to my desire to please God above all else, to insecurity… whatever the case, the question of what exactly God wants from me has been far too complicated.  Can you relate?  At least a bit, at some time?

If so, I have good news for you… IT’S NOT AS HARD TO FIGURE OUT GOD’S WILL FOR YOUR LIFE AS YOU THINK!  Here’s the secret I am testing out, in a nutshell:

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I’m not even going to take credit for this simple equation.  It was inspired by a podcast I came across by Edie Wadsworth of the blog Life In Grace, which you can listen to here read about here.  When I find something good and encouraging, I’m not going to keep it to myself, so go check it out in your spare time.  A few of her freeing words that really spoke to me in this area…

“(God) has given you everything you need in Jesus’ perfect life, death, and resurrection.  You don’t need to do ANYthing to please Him or find Him or discern His will.  He is pleased with Jesus and sees you as one redeemed by Christ.  He has placed you in various stations in life and called you to serve your neighbor, since all of YOUR needs have already been met in Him.  He has gifted you in certain ways, so that you may serve your neighbor and meet his needs.  And the beautiful kicker is this — God hides Himself in your vocation, so that all the service you render to your neighbor is sacred, because it is, in reality, GOD at work through you, meeting the needs of the neighbor.”

This is how God gets all the glory for what we do!  And that’s what pleases God.  We are His hands and feet, but it is really God who is at work to will and to act according to His good purpose.

You guys, for so long I have poo-pooed the fact that I’m just a Mom, a wife, a homemaker.  Not that I want a high-powered career, but really, God, isn’t there some grander purpose for which You created me to serve You?  Typing this makes me feel just as foolish as I sound — no one is more important to me than my 4 guys!  I have wanted to believe that the mundane daily tasks of being a wife, a mother, a homemaker were the behind-the-scenes to the Grand Stage Performance of my life.  BUT, when I begin to view my tasks as service that blesses both God and others, my life takes on more importance… more value… more meaning.  Have you ever struggled with feeling like maybe your life really doesn’t matter much?  Have you ever felt insignificant?  Allow me to suggest that you have a misplaced view of importance.

I’m off to make dinner for my guys.  Because they need to eat, and I’m passionate about cooking, I will choose to see it as a valuable act of service.  I’m testing a new recipe for beef enchiladas, which I will be serving weary travelers at a school-sponsored event in a couple of weeks.  Again, meeting needs with my passions, talents, and abilities.  Then I’m going to fold the laundry and cheer my son on at a basketball game.  While at the game, I’ll keep my eye open to how I can share goodness with others through a smile, a friendly hello that is not just in passing, or God knows what else.  My point is, these are all things that I might do anyway . . . but why not have fun taking a more cheerful view of the way we go about the days we’ve been given?  Our days can be dull and lack luster if we allow ourselves to forget that we are part of God’s grand game of Life and we are each His chosen playing piece.

Have a great day, my long lost friends!  I hope this encouragement finds you well . . . or sets you on a more cheerful path!

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To read more on finding your passion or “calling,” check out this post.  I’ve also been inspired by the book Love Does by Bob Goff.

 

the good kind of procrastination

Procrastination.  It’s a character quality you typically don’t want to excel at.  But sometimes procrastination is a good thing. Recently I came across this thought-provoking idea, shared by a person who had met the end of their life…

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Spend time on things that last longer than you.  That’s a call to live on purpose if I’ve ever heard one.

Tuesday morning I was all ready to go with a list of things I wanted to get done, but my husband had another idea.

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A day of play was calling our name, so I blew off all my plans and personal guidelines for what mattered more.  The lake was smooth like glass, so we set out on an adventure that involved ice cream cones and hours of fun in the sun.  Everything else at home could wait; we were in the business of making family memories.

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It can seem like I let these distractions keep me from hitting my stride in affecting lasting habit change, but really, when the days are done, everything on my to-do list is finite.  Not every day can be spent in “good” procrastination, but when the opportunity comes, you have to seize it.  Life is too short not to build into the legacy that can come of quality time with the ones you love.

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That was two days ago.   Today I’m ready to hit the ground running.  I’ve got my projects scheduled with time deadlines in my planner because I’m realizing that if something doesn’t have a deadline for me, I am easily distracted and things sit undone for aeons.  A stay-cation mentality was the order of the day a couple of days ago, but today – today is all about self-discipline, cranking up the tunes, and getting things done (or at least making progress).  Wish me luck!

What’s your mentality for the day today?  Is it a lazy summer day, or a full plate?  Whatever it is, do it with gusto — the joy is in the journey!

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Before I get into the heart of my intentions toward making progress over procrastination, I have to share a little story that is bolstering my faith in big ways.  I hope it speaks to you as well…

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that a few days ago I was battling back pain.  My whole back felt tight and I was having a hard time standing up straight.  Lovely.  Add the smell of Icy Hot and I was feeling – well, let’s just say I wasn’t feeling “hot.”  ;)

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I thought it felt better to sit, so that’s what I did.  Eventually, though, I had to get up and get things done.  The song from that commercial “haven’t got time for the pain…” was singing in my ears.  As soon as I got up and tried to get busy, I realized that sitting had only made the tight pain worse.  Sitting had become a problem for me, once again.

I knew that people were counting on me to be prepared for the day’s activities, so I decided to suck it up and keep moving.  It wasn’t long before I noticed a marked change in the way I felt.  All of a sudden it seemed that my pain had decreased dramatically, as if a small miracle had occurred.  God caught my attention and my eyes were opened to a faith-building lesson.

If you just get up and get moving, He works the kinks out.  He removes some of the pain of being stuck in one spot for too long.  When you persevere through the initial discomfort, eventually you realize that you are walking taller, stepping stronger, hitting your stride.

Do you need some kinks worked out?  Are you experiencing the pain of being stuck?  Press on.  Press on and keep your eyes open to what happens when you do!

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Later in the day, I came across this print I had made for our homeschool classroom.  I’m not sure what it meant to me when I created it last August, but it spoke to me again today.  God is in all things.  And far too often we believe Him for far too little.  He’s in our pain and our hopes and our dreams and our mundane daily tasks.  He’s in the things we think are our ideas, but they are really the promptings He has put on our hearts.  We just have to be willing to listen those good convictions that have taken root in our thought life and take ACTION on them.  I have a boatload of things that I hope to accomplish this week and I know that realistically, I may only make a dent in my list.  But I’m going to set the productivity bar high and give it my best, because I need to sit less and persevere more.  Maybe you need to push yourself less and sit more.  Either way, I encourage you to obey what’s on your heart and lean into the initial discomfort that obedience may bring.  We will never know the blessing waiting on the other side of our discomfort unless we take action on what we know we need to do.

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I started using the hashtag #ChallengeToChange on Instagram as a way to be real about my triumphs and pitfalls in changing the way I do life.  I’m serious about demolishing my bad habits.   This is my way of documenting progress (not perfection!) and keeping myself honest and accountable.  Anyone who wants to join me in using the #ChallengeToChange hashtag to document what you are working on is more than welcome to do so!  I’d love to be inspired by your journey as I stay real and accountable in mine. : )

 

I’ve committed to change… now what?

I’m here today to commit fully to change.  To choose peaceful waters that come from committed action, a commitment to obedience. The truth is, a better way of living is not out of reach for any of us.  It’s up to you and it’s up to me.  We have to CHOOSE CHANGE.  We have to commit, and stay committed.  If we do, the peace will come.  I’m willing to put myself out here for this promise I have yet to see fulfilled in my life.  For so long I have been paralyzed by the notion that I should wait for God to come and wave His magic wand over my needs.  As I’ve prayed and prayed to be delivered from my bondage, this thought keeps coming over my mind, “My action IS the magic wand of God.”  I’m ready to do what it takes to get the monkeys off my back.  Are you?

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So, if you have read my last two posts, you know that I am committing to change my bad habits.  And I’m going to bring you along on the journey to better living!  If anything I have said has resonated with you, but you still feel stuck, you may be thinking, “I’ve committed to change… now what?”  At least, that’s what thought has been on my mind.

I’ll tell you what I’m going to do about my two big areas of perpetual defeat (eating healthier and procrastinating).  I know from the responses I got to my last post that I am not the only one with these problems.  If your big Thing is different (fear, or some sort of addiction maybe), stay tuned.  I have encouragement to share with you, too, in future posts.  Oh, and if your problem is with not finishing what you start, read this!

“Eating healthy” is a great goal.  God only gives us one body and we trash it with unhealthy choices all the time and it is taking a toll us!  I’ve seen people age well and I’ve seen people age with all kinds of health problems, and I’ve felt convicted to take care of myself NOW so that I can live comfortably later.  The consequences of our bad eating habits can wreak havoc on our attitude, our marriage, our parenting, and our ability to function in our day-to-day tasks.  You know these things.  I know these things.  But what are we going to DO about them?

I hate to reduce this issue to my weight, but in reality, keeping my weight in check is a tool to measure how I’m doing.  I’m never going to be one to starve myself.  I hate diets!  The word alone annoys me and makes me cringe.  I don’t want restrictions, I want a healthy LIFESTYLE that honors the gift of food that God gives us.  Seriously, do you think He ever intended for us to fill our bodies with chemicals that extend shelf life of so-called “food”?  Do you think eating a half dozen freshly baked chocolate chip cookies (um, yum) in a half hour or less is actually satisfying?  Or can one cookie savored slowly and ceremoniously satisfy?  I personally feel the conviction that if I can’t stop at one of something, I am craving it too much or for the wrong reasons and I need to just plain avoid it.  Self-control is the issue here, and I’m sure I will be talking about it a lot more in future posts as I work to break free from my addictions.

So, weight.  This could go all kinds of bad places, but we’re on a path to a healthy LIFESTYLE, not a lose-it-quick scheme.

Some might look at me and think, she doesn’t have a weight problem.  Listen, I know my body. I know how I feel, and I know change is necessary.  This isn’t so much about a number on the scale as it is a healthier lifestyle.  I talk a good game, but in reality I have my downfalls and my forty one year old body just can’t handle the same habits I have lived in during decades past.  Call me crazy for putting this out there so boldly, but I’m in the mood to gamble.  I’m betting that someone can relate to my problem and wants to do something about it, too, but just can’t seem to make it happen.  That’s where I’ve been for so long, and I’m tired of it.  Are you?  I’ve been inspired by so many, and one of my favorite mentors gave me the framework for this next statement.  I replaced a few of the words to give myself the kick in the pants conviction that I need to get ACTING on the life I want to live.

 

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Yep.  Thank. you. very. much.

So what does that mean?  Here’s how I will put it into action:

I will set myself up for success by making it my priority to spend my time having healthy food choices ready to eat at all times. That means packing a snack if I know I’m going to be out rather than being tempted by high calorie drive thrus.  Panera is one of my favorite places to go, and there are definitely healthier choices there, but when I see the calorie count in print, I have to think twice! Scientifically speaking, in order to lose weight we need to consume fewer calories.  Eat smaller portions, cut out sweets, skip the bread, do whatever works for you, but be prepared to make good choices.  You are the only one who can keep yourself on track!  And that takes effort, but future you will thank you.  Future me will thank me!  The time is now.

I will purposefully choose plant-based foods in higher quantities over my usual carb-laden meals.  Here’s the deal.  You and  I are smart enough to know right from wrong.  There is so much propaganda out there about what to eat and what not to eat.  The mixed messages can paralyze us if we let ourselves be tossed about by all the words and ideas and “latest research”.  Get clear!  Michael Pollan’s Food Rules make sense.  Eat real foods, mostly plants, not too much.  Done.  Keep it simple.

I’ll be following one last simple mantra and that is, MAKE DECISIONS.  In the final chapter of Beth Moore’s fruit of the spirit study, she talks about self control like this.  We have the power over our choices with three simple responses.  “Yes.”  “No.”  “Not right now.” This can apply to so many areas of our life.  (Try thinking these words over the battles you are faced with as you respond to your children or your spouse, for example!)  All things are permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial.  I’m not dogging myself with strict rules over certain foods unless I find I can’t exercise self-control.  “Not right now” is a great way to practice self control in the area of sweets.  We’ll see how this goes.  If I need to set stronger boundaries for myself, I will.  And that’s okay.

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I didn’t even get to the issue of procrastinating.  That’ll have to be the next post.  ;)  I’ll give you a hint as to where it’s going, though. You’ll be seeing the words “set yourself up for success” again.

Until then, leave a comment and let me know if any of this resonated.  Your comments and feedback on previous posts are really helping me keep going and press into my progress in change.  Let’s keep the interaction going, friends!!  We can all build one another up on this journey.  

On it with you,

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I’m going to triumph over defeat. Are you?

Why do we allow ourselves to continue in our defeated ways?  I’m done with it.  I’m done accepting the invitation to rebel against what I know I ought to do.  I feel such a strong conviction on my heart to change.  This is something that I have been battling for a very long time and again today I ask myself, am I broken enough YET??

Yes.  Yes.  At some point you just have to decide to say yes and move forward.  Today is that day.

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Yesterday I finally hit publish on a post that has been boiling and simmering in my private life for months.  From the conversations I had in person and on Instagram as a response, it is clear that you can relate on some level, and I’m not surprised.  We all have our burden – our thing that is holding us back.  Mine has had me bound up for a long time.  I know what I need to do to get free, I just can’t seem to make it happen for any period of time.  It’s insane!

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All images are from our family vacation to Maine last summer, interjected to provide a relief from my words.  I chose them because the beach is my happy place, the place I feel free, the place my joy overflows.  That’s the goal in pursuing change here with you — freedom and joy that overflows.  I share my words as an invitation to walk on this path WITH me if you desire to make positive lasting change a reality in your life, too.  See if what I say resonates…

Is there a change that you want to make in your life?  Something that is holding you back and that consumes your thoughts from time to time all too often?  Do you feel crippled by a decision that needs to be made or something that isn’t getting done or do you just plain feel dissatisfied with the path you are on?  What’s your THING — that thing that has you feeling stuck in the mud or trapped on the crazy train?

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Now take a deep breath.

That has been me for far too long.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I have spent this year (longer, really) trying to get unstuck and pursue positive lasting change.  Like I mentioned in my last post, the kick in the pants comes, but I find myself continuing to do what I have always done.  And it’s not working for me.

I’ll just be right out there… my Thing is two-fold: getting healthy and making better use of my time.  My Thing is really about one ugly word: gluttony.  In order to make a change, you have to be honest with yourself and come clean.  I have a habit of overindulging in unhealthy food and overindulging in procrastination.  I know both habits have negative consequences and I know what I need to do to change, but I remain stuck, and it’s by my own choice.  As I’ve been talking to other women, it is clear to me that most of you can relate. We all have consciously or unconsciously chosen habits that have robbed us of our best life.  Maybe you overindulge your tendency to live in fear, or to overextend yourself, or you have some other area of addiction that you battle.  Maybe you made bad choices in the past and the future seems insurmountable as a result.  Life feels clouded and unclear and you can’t seem to focus even if you try.  Our poor habits can make life feel overwhelming, can’t they?

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Recently I heard the story of the rich man who approaches Jesus and asks how he can inherit eternal life (Matthew 19).  You may be familiar with it.  In the end, Jesus answers, sell your possessions and come follow me.  The man walks away sad; he can’t do it.  This story grieves me.  The man forfeited his best life — his richest life — for things that will rot, earthly things that don’t matter.  He was told to give up the one thing he craved more than Jesus, and he couldn’t do it.  Or he refused to.  Either way, he missed the opportunity for abundant living.  As a result, I’m pretty sure he went on to a life that never satisfied.

I see myself in this story.  Not because I’m not willing to sell my possessions.  That’s not what God has challenged me to do.  What He has challenged me to do is to give up the things (the bad habits) that keep me from walking strong and in the fullness of the life He has created me for.  The things that could be called my idols if I wasn’t taking them before Him so often in prayer.  I can’t tell you how many times I have felt convicted not to eat the junk or not to put off my tasks, but I eat anyway.  I procrastinate anyway.  In the end, I walk away sad because disobedience grieves me.  And it should.

I don’t want to live with regret any longer.  I don’t want to miss the opportunity God has prepared for me to live abundantly because I haven’t taken care of my junk.  We can miss our best while we are busy staying burdened by those habits that demand our focused change.  There is no sweet that is sweeter than victory and being ready to walk in the fullness of my calling!  “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” -1 Peter 1:13.  This verse speaks volumes to me about being ready for what God has waiting for me in the next season of my life.  If I don’t deal with my stuff now, I’ll continue to live in my turmoil.  I will be like the rich man, sad and unsatisfied.  And it will be due solely to my inaction and poor choices.

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I’m here today to commit fully to change.  To choose peaceful waters that come from committed action, a commitment to obedience. The truth is, a better way of living is not out of reach for any of us.  It’s up to you and it’s up to me.  We have to CHOOSE CHANGE.  We have to commit, and stay committed.  If we do, the peace will come.  I’m willing to put myself out here for this promise I have yet to see fulfilled in my life.  For so long I have been paralyzed by the notion that I should wait for God to come and wave His magic wand over my needs.  As I’ve prayed and prayed to be delivered from my bondage, this thought keeps coming over my mind, “My action IS the magic wand of God.”  I’m ready to do what it takes to get the monkeys off my back.  Are you?

On the journey with you,

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the burdens on my heart

I have written this post so many times and I’ve never hit publish.  I know I need to hit publish.  I have a different version of these thoughts written and ready to go, no pictures, but today I have to write again.  The burdens on my heart are heavy and powerful.

 

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I have a friend who told me the last person he would want to meet in heaven is James.  That cracks me up, because the entire five chapters of that book in the bible are meaty and hard-hitting and no-nonsense.  And I love it.  I welcome the kick in the pants to live the life I ought to be living.  It fires me up!

The kick in the pants comes… and then I don’t act on it.  And I hate myself for it.  This is me — real, honest.

It’s not bad guilt.  It’s the kind of guilt that will eventually motivate change.  We all have our areas that need change.  Maybe you are a smoker and you know that if you could only quit you would save your health and your financial situation.  Maybe you struggle with being quick to yell when your kids are disobedient and you see them mirroring your behavior in return.  Maybe you have a hard time finishing what you start; you overspend starting new projects and end up with a heap of excess and frustration and clutter to go with it. Maybe you battle the urge to overindulge in some other way to comfort yourself when you are stressed.  In your heart and your head you know your behavior has to change, but your habits and sinful tendencies are just. too. strong.  

Maybe you realize the Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.  You have taken your habits before the Lord and if you are brave enough to admit it, you have felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit to do the right thing.  Maybe you have even come to the place of agreeing with the Spirit to make changes, but when the rubber meets the road, you cave into your desires and do what you have always done anyway. The consequences of your sin rule your life.  Truth:  you invited them to rule you.  I have invited them to rule me.

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It is in my weakness that He is made strong.

You are the only one who can change you… but it will take surrendering your current and strong desires for better things that bring blessing.

I’ve been counseling a couple lately who has found themselves in a difficult season.  I love them so much and I want to see them come out of this season stronger than anyone thought possible.  And the thing is, every time I speak truth to them, I can turn what I say around on myself with an equally strong admonition to do what it takes to win over defeat.

Why do we allow ourselves to continue in our defeated ways?  I’m done with it.  I’m done accepting the invitation to rebel against what I know I ought to do.  I feel such a strong conviction on my heart to change.  This is something that I have been battling for a very long time and again today I ask myself, am I broken enough YET??

Yes.  Yes.  At some point you just have to decide to say yes and move forward.  Today is that day.