Finding Joy

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This week in my homeschool co-op, among the mom’s we talked about just this!!!

Apparently nearly all of us struggle with finding joy amid all the busyness and doing and being of life. There’s just SO MUCH ON OUR PLATES. It doesn’t seem to matter what your lot in life is: homeschool vs. public/private schooling, stay-at-home vs. working mom, no kids vs. 1-3 kids vs. 4+ kids/large family, etc.

Nearly all of us feel it. We’re all so busy living… but how much of us are really enJOYing?

I am so right there with ya. I’m feeling it, too:

I’m a wife.
I’m a mom of (7) children ages 15yr-2yr.
I’m a homemaker.
I homeschool.
I help my husband with some secretarial work for his business.
I’m a blogger/writer.
I’m involved in my church & community & 4H.
I volunteer.
I’m on (2) local Boards.
I have friendships & family relationships.
My husband & children have full lives as well that I must work around.
I have (2) high schooler’s at home that are quite busy with their schooling & sports & choir (soon to be driver’s ed. & getting jobs).

I’m not even going to include here doctor’s appointments, homeschool co-op mtgs/activities, meal planning/shopping & the actual making (& cleaning up) of meals, exercise, recreational activities, alone time, Bible study time, house/yard projects, paying bills, all the time I spend in the car driving everyone everywhere… etc.

Our house is hopping from morning till night.

To boot, I’m an introvert/HSP. And if you’re into the whole Myers-Briggs thing, I’m an INFJ. I require a ridiculous amount of alone time to process life & chill. I often struggle with anxiety & overwhelm.

In all this crazy living, it’s honestly really hard for me to stop & smell the roses.
Shoot, sometimes I miss the roses altogether. LOL

But if I had to guess, you’re pretty darn busy, too. Your “busy” looks considerably different than mine (for sure), but it’s there nonetheless. It’s real. You’re running & going almost non-stop. You’re trying to complete a seemingly endless list of to-do’s. You’ve got a slew of people that need you on the daily. You’re responsible for an incredible list of responsibilities.

Can I encourage you to: Slow Down

Breathe.

Just be.

Look around you.

Take stock.

Though we live in a fallen world, there is pure beauty and bliss all around us.
Look for it. Seek it. Think on it. Meditate on it. Get lost in it.

I don’t think JOY is just something that happens to us– it’s something we have to actively cultivate and nurture.
I don’t think it comes from any outside source or person or circumstance– it’s a practice we must regularly be involved in.
I think it’s like a muscle: if you don’t use it, you lose it.
It’s not something handed to us on a silver platter– we ourselves have to hunt and search for.

Even amid the busy, JOY can be ours. It’s looking at our everything… and giving thanks:

“Thank You, God, for all these special relationships, all these activities on my calendar, all these opportunities to serve, all these growing experiences, and yes, even the trials and struggles– they are making me more like Your Son, Jesus.”

Joy comes from opening our eyes and seeing the wonderful that’s all around us… it also comes from a heart of gratitude.

So what’s bringing *you* joy today? What’s putting a smile on *your* face?

Let’s cultivate this together! Let’s practice this JOY. Let’s give thanks in all things.

#liveawakened   #livefullyalive   #JOY   #findingjoy   #encouragement   #stopandsmelltheroses   #practicejoy   #happinesscomesfromwithin   #gratitude   #lifeisbeautiful

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Let’s Talk Comfort Zones

So today I had to do some MAJOR “adulting”. To boot, my hubby was out of town/wasn’t able to get to his phone–> so I had no extra help or direction from him. I did “it” on my own. And to be honest, I kicked some adulting butt. (Really I did.)

I was *totally* out of my comfort zone. But I did it anyway.

Was it easy? No.

Did it feel good? No.

Was I scared? Yes.

“It” wasn’t expected. I wasn’t prepared for “it”. What I *thought* was going to be a simple thing turned into a “you lost your afternoon fussing with ‘this’.”

But because I’ve been working on myself and actively dealing with my insecurities, I really handled it with genuine ease. I didn’t get flustered/confused. I didn’t fumble over my words. I was able to be straightforward & honest.

In a word, it felt very “freeing” today. Not in the moment, but afterward. Something that would normally be crippling was handled “matter-of-factly”. I cannot adequately explain how proud I am at my ability to handle this hard situation.

Perhaps my “hard” is another one’s “simple”. IDK. We’re not comparing experiences here.  That’s dangerous ground (that is, comparison). It seemed hard to me, and I conquered it. Yay!

Feeling strong. Feeling accomplished.

But it all started with stepping outside my comfort zone.

It’d be “comfortable” to have someone else deal with this issue.

It’d be “comfortable” if it wasn’t my problem to fuss with.

It’d be “comfortable” if I could wash my hands of this.

But I stepped out and did something scared.

Honestly, I’m on Cloud 9.

Like I said, in the moment, it didn’t “feel good”. It was uncomfortable. I wished someone else could handle it for me. I thought of my escape routes for sure.

But I stuck with it. Did it scared. Prayed. Believed that God was in control over all things.

If there’s something you’re struggling with today, may I encourage you to take just (1) step forward and do “the thing” scared. I’m right there with ya. I did a scary thing today, too. You can do it as well. From one scaredy-cat to another… we can do this!

#formerscaredycat    #nowbebrave    #takethatfirststep    #doitscared    #trustGod    #youarenotalone    #stepoutofyourcomfortzone    #liveawakened   #livefullyalive    #beencouraged    #loveyourlife

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Weekend Smiles

1) Early AM quiet time with the Lord. There’s just nothing like it.

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2) This gorgeous car was parked outside my house today while it’s owners went to get some ice cream at the nearby ice cream shop. I hope they don’t mind I was ogling/drooling over it.

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3) Salted caramels. Be still my heart.

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4) When my kids make hot breakfast’s for everyone.

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5) Please pardon the language in the title of this Podcast, but golly, this lady’s got some really good stuff in her podcasts concerning boundaries (and no, they are *not* filled with colorful language- she’s actually a very professional counselor. ). Listened to this gem today. So so good.

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 https://beyondbitchy.com/podcast/8-celebrate-the-no/

6) Also listened to this podcast as well. Really hope they post the other sessions!

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https://chipjudd.com/2018/02/02/boundries-ch-1-audio-recording/

7) Fires with my family!

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8) Bright colored clothing. Can’t it just ALWAYS be summer?!

 

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

Stop Waiting

Stop waiting. Make something of the moment you're in right now

Because of the Fall of man and the effects of sin on the earth, there’s always gonna be decay, failure, let downs, problems, sadness, and death this side of heaven. And quite frankly, I kinda think that because of sin, our brains may be hard-wired to immediately see the darkness around us. I think this because ‘seeing the good & the positive’ seems a skill that most of us struggle to naturally have and develop. It doesn’t seem innate to most.

Scripture says,

“… brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things.”
~Philippians 4:8

“Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.”
~Proverbs 4:23

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

It matters what we meditate on in our hearts and minds.

If a negative thought comes into our minds, it matters what we do with it. Do we run with it? Imagine intentions of other people? Think worst case scenario? Ruminate over it? Meditate on it?

What we’re doing is creating mental ruts and grooves. And quite literally, we are creating neural pathways of negativity in our brains. The more we think negatively, the more ingrained that line of thinking becomes!

We must counter this with positive thinking. Not in a New Age-y way. But in a Biblical way! Focus on what is right and true and praiseworthy. Focus on the good that is all around us. Focus on the blessings of God. Focus on what Christ did on the cross for us.

Having a hard time doing this mentally? Just get out a notebook & pen or sit down with a blank Word document and just start writing. Even if it’s simple things like: the sun is shining and the weather is nice today, it’s Friday and I’m getting paid, no one’s sick in my family right now, we went grocery shopping and have a full fridge/pantry of food, etc. It doesn’t have to be anything huge and amazing. But what you’ll see is that there is a TON of things in our lives that are going RIGHT. We just need to be paying attention/looking for it. It’s there, I promise.

On learning to take a positive spin on events & circumstances…
An example: this Thursday (7/19/18) AM, I had a varicose vein procedure. I had my alarm set for 4:30a so I’d have ample time to get ready and drive to my appointment. Well, I forgot to turn that alarm off. So come the next morning (Friday), my alarm goes off at 4:30a. Besides scaring me out of a nice dream, my next immediate thought was “grrrrr… this upsets me… I want to sleep!” But I forced myself to take a positive spin: though I don’t like waking up at 4:30a when I don’t need to & I was awoken out of a deep sleep: I am now awake enough to take the Ibuprophen I have on my bed stand. Now, when I wake up at normal time, I won’t be in pain. Yay!

Though “yay” wasn’t my initial response, it’s the one I rolled over/fell back asleep to. I was genuinely happy and slept like a baby like a husband. 🙂 I knew I’d wake up with less pain in a few hours AND the Ibu would allow me a couple more hours of good, pain-free sleep. I successfully took a positive spin on that experience.

Note: I will NOT be accidentally be waking up at 4:30a on Saturday as I successfully deleted that alarm. 🙂

But no matter our situation or lot in life, there is ALWAYS something positive to focus on that can bring a smile to our face. There’s ALWAYS a silver lining. Look for it. Seek it. Search for it. Don’t “wait for it to happen”. MAKE it happen. It seriously starts in the mind and how we perceive the things that happen to us and that are said to us. Happiness starts within us. It’s not an outward thing that happens to us.

Let’s make it happen.
Let’s look for something good to savor today.
Let’s choose now to be happy!

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

#lookforthegood   #bepositive   #livefree   #choosehappiness   #happinessstartswithin   #becarefullittlemindwhatyouthink   #smile   #behappy   #liveawakened   #livefullyalive

Am I resisting Happiness?

On my personal Facebook profile awhile back, I posed the following question:

If fear & failure weren’t an issue, what would you do/pursue/invest in that you’re currently not? Just curious. Let’s dream a bit.

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I received several amazing answers like “creating resources for at-risk youth”, “teaching baking”,”being a stunt woman”, “being a politician”, “starting a restaurant”, “being a mortician”, “starting an apple orchard/cidery”, etc.

Fantastic, very eclectic responses! Got some big dreamers out there!

So, this was *my* response:

Me? I’d get serious about writing. Instead of dreaming (cluttering my head) and having thousands of half-written documents (cluttering my filing cabinet & computer & flat surfaces) I’d put myself out there and blog, write (for myself and other writers/bloggers), get articles and books published, etc. Every time I think about getting consistent with my blog I keep thinking things like “someone’s already said this before… probably better” or “what if this offends someone?” or “can I deal with potential ridicule or critique?” etc. Or the infamous “you can’t make money blogging… besides, who’d read your stuff anyway?” ugh

A friend of mine commented on this thought and said,

I once heard someone say that instead of self doubt they would think “why not me? If they can do it – why not me?”. Why not you? You don’t have to be the first to say it – if you say it well, someone out there hasn’t heard it! If that wasn’t true pastors and teachers would be out of a job 

Her words struck a chord.

Why NOT me?…

So what if someone’s said something similar to what I’m saying? I will word things differently. And I will reach a different audience.

And how often do we hear the same thing over and over, but it’s the repetition that finally makes it stick for someone?

Or someone words it JUST the way we needed to read it/hear it at that moment… it spoke to us in a language or tone that really jives with us.

And maybe it’s not even about being repetitious. Maybe it’s just, “hey, that person lives a very different lifestyle. They do things very differently.” Maybe that different perspective and view would be helpful, insightful, or encouraging to someone else.

Anyways, no longer am I going to let fear dictate my actions. Even if I’m not the best or most eloquent writer… that’s OK. I know with my words that I have stuff to contribute to society.

So what about you? Is there anything that you’re hesitant to do or start? Are you stopped in your tracks with self-doubt? Do you hear voices that say “I’m not good enough”… “would people even be interested in what I could contribute?”… “other people are already doing this/what I have to give isn’t anything new”… “would I even get followers/viewers?”… “I could never ______”… “who am I to do _______?”… “what I want to be and do is so big but I’m so small/I’m just a _______”…

Stop it! Just stop listening to those voices! Don’t give them anymore space in your brain!

What you think eventually becomes action (or inaction). Scripture says multiple times to guard your mind and heart and to only think on things that are lovely, excellent, praiseworthy, and right. We now have the science to understand that our thoughts can actually change our brains, cells, and genes. The brain/body connection is something I’ve been getting into lately and it’s an absolutely fascinating read! We’ve only begun to scratch the surface on how powerful the human brain is. But God knows because He created it. And He knows that what we think is ridiculously powerful– so guard it. What we think dictates what we do. Think right–> do right.

Let’s start taking charge of our thinking right now, today! Believe that God wants us to live fearlessly and fully for Him. He imparts upon us dreams and drives and passions. Certain things will energize us. Each of us has a unique take. A special creative spark is ours and ours alone and God desperately wants you to share it with the world. He made you for a plan and a purpose. Don’t miss out on it because of fear. Tell fear where to stuff it.

Do something today, even if it’s ever so small, to step out in faith and begin pursuing your passions and desires. God gave them to you for a reason. They’re yours alone. Let’s be faithful and use our gifts and talents for the Lord. He’s rooting for us.

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Live fully alive! Live awakened.

 

#livefullyalive   #fullyalive   #liveawakened   #stepintoyourfreedom   #useyourGodgivenpassion    #thinkright   #thinkpositively   #stepoutinfaith   #bebold   #befearless   #whyNOTyou

 

Your Love Awakens Me

This past January, my family and I began attending a new church in our community. One of the very first songs we learned was “Your Love Awakens Me” by Phil Wickam. You can listen to it here:

With as many times as I’ve heard and sung this song, I still love it. In fact, this past Sunday they sang it again and the church totally rocked it.

I think I’ll always love it.

One line from this song really stands out to me: Your love awakens me.

When we can begin to really grasp the width and breadth and depth of LOVE God has for us… when we finally realize that He is FOR us (and always have been)… when we can finally see He’s our biggest fan and wants the absolute best for us (He’s got plans to prosper us… to give us a hope and a future)… and when we can finally wrap our minds around the truth that any and all condemnation that was once on us because of sin was completely taken away at the moment of salvation…

… in a very real sense, we have been awakened

Walls between us and God are broken.
We’re no longer bound by the chains of sin.
We’re covered in grace and LOVE.
We’re brought out of the darkness and into the light.
We’re fully alive (abundantly… eternally).
Death has been conquered for us.

In a word, we are free.

So as believers in Christ, let’s live FREE and FULLY ALIVE!

Live Awakened.  Live fully alive.

#Yourloveawakens   #liveawakened   #Godsloveforus   #nomorecondemnation   #livefullyalive    #freedom   #livefree

Today’s musings

1. I SO want these made for my birthday!

Flamingos are my absolute FAVORITE bird. In fact, during the warmer months, YES, I have a few plastic pink flamingos decorating my front yard. They are just adorable. They make me smile. 🙂 Wonder if my little 11 year old baker daughter could make these… hmm…

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2. This article: http://life.ca/blog/mindful-learning/

Though I don’t adhere completely to the Unschooling movement, I do agree with many of the ideas they promote. Mindful learning. Life learning. Relax. Enjoy kids where they are developmentally right now. Lots of learning is in fact occurring during play. As a parent, model being a “lover of learning”– kids will follow suit. Learning happens as a by-product of living. Don’t over-commit to activities (either for ourselves or the kids). Look after/make time for ourselves in order to avoid burnout.

Just a really good article.

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3. Silly pranks.

We had friends over for the evening yesterday and our oldest daughter made brownies for dessert. Get it? Brown-E’s? LOL. They seemed to appreciate our humor.

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4. Drawings from a child in the Sunday morning class I teach at church.

The church we attend recently opened. It has been an incredible blessing to our entire family!!! A couple times a month I help teach the elementary grades class. One of the first weeks we were open, this adorable little Kindergarten girl came into my classroom. She was super quiet and reserved. Hardly said a word. She was wearing a pink t-shirt with the Eiffel Tower on it. Being a Francophile, I began telling her how much I loved her shirt. She still didn’t say much. But as the Sunday’s keep rolling by and I keep spending time with her in class, she has truly come out of her shell and has been kinda like my little buddy. This past Sunday, she gave these pictures for me to “take home and hang in your kitchen”. Melt.my.heart. She is just the sweetest thing. And you can bet these two pics are hanging in my kitchen right now! It’s just such an encouragement. I love being able to make an impact for Christ with these precious little kids!

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5. I love chocolate. Yes, yes I do!

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6. On the topic of chocolate…

We didn’t have real brownies for dessert (LOL), but we did have chocolate cake with homemade chocolate frosting. Be still my heart. My 11 year old daughter who loves to bake make these for us and our company. It was wonderful.

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7. My homemade chili… aka “Mezzo Farte”.

For anyone with music training, you’ll appreciate the name of my chili. 🙂 Back when I was in High School, our choir had a chili cook-off competition. I won 3rd place for my chili, Mezzo Farte, with many a snicker to boot. It’s a family favorite and super easy to make. We always love our chili poured over rice, basmati is best. Try it and let me know what you think!

Mezza Farte Chili
-saute one onion in a drizzle of olive oil, until golden brown
-add 1/2 lb of ground beef, cook well, drain any excess oil
-add the following: 1 large can (46 oz) of tomato juice, 2 (16 oz) cans of kidney beans (drained), 1 T + 2 t chili powder, 1 t salt, & 1/2 t ground black pepper
-stir well, bring to a boil, drop to a simmer for 1-2 hrs or until thick, stir occasionally
-doubles perfectly!

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Savoring the ordinary, enjoying the here and now…

~Momma Duck