Gratitude Du Jour

I am really-truly-absolutely-fully loving this winter and all the icy cold blasts & falling snow & days off & a MUCH slower pace to life.
A long, sweet season to breathe, relax, enjoy, get cozy, grow, heal, think, plan, dream.
Peace. Tranquility. Quiet. Stillness.
My newly snow-covered blue spruce, home to a beautiful family of cardinals, collected snow on its limbs, slightly blowing in the cold, biting breeze.
I’m a sucker for holiday window clings. Valentine’s is just around the corner. *LOVE*
Hot cocoa and marshmallows to warm you from the inside out.
Perfect after playing in the snow.
A sweet treat that brings big smiles to my loves.
“Hearts of Love” I write to each of my children from Feb 1 to Valentine’s Day.
Every day I write out just one thing I absolute ADORE about each child & leave them on the counter to greet them in the morning. Individualized. Personalized. Never a repeated note.
You can bet when they see them come February, the sleep from their eyes instantly vanishes.
They just LOVE getting love notes from their momma.
(And momma loves writing them, too.)
My kids end the morning with both full bellies & full hearts.  
Though all of my children are homeschooled, my two eldest kids take choir at the local public school. (Tra la la) We, too, celebrate all the days off from public school due to weather. Our days at home have been seamless, uninterrupted days of flow (much like holidays & summer vacation). It’s been a lovely break from the norm.
Surprise lunch dates with my honey. When he pops out of his office and on the fly asks if I can go out to lunch with him. Can’t believe we’re finally to the stage in parenting where this is even a possibility. He still takes my breath away.

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No Winter Blues Over Here

We’re now on Day 3 of life around us basically cancelling for winter.

Public schools are closed. Mail is not being delivered. No city trash is being picked up. County offices were closed. No sport practices. Local board meetings rescheduled.

And for good reason! Here in the Midwest, we’ve been in an Arctic Vortex, with temps in the negatives and wind chills reaching a crazy -50F in some parts.

Baby, it’s ridiculously COLD outside!!!

When I check my social media, I keep seeing people complaining about the cold weather: its ill effects (likes pipes bursting & state officials asking people to drop their thermostats to 65F), people getting really squirrel-y, parents being SO ready for school to re-open, less business, the pain of rescheduling events, etc. You name it, and someone’s probably complained about it.

That snow tho… oh it’s been beautiful. And we’ve had lots of it– reminds me of the winters I used to experience when I was a child. Watching it fall is energizing… gives me goosebumps.

The kids have been enjoying all the frost:

We have a family of cardinals that live in the blue spruce right outside our kitchen window. When it snows, their colors just pop. And every time I see them, I tear up because they were my grandma’s favorite bird– I miss her so.

It’s cozy. Quiet. Laid back. Calm. Peaceful. So little stress and go-go-go of life and activity.

Lot’s of family nights of movie watching & board games. Extra time to KonMari the house and work on those long-neglected home projects.

It’s been a forced rest for everyone.

Rest brings rejuvenation. Rejuvenation brings productivity and creativity. It gives us some air space in which to think and plan. Helps us get schtuff done. It allows healing & growth.

So rather than being frustrated with the weather, try instead to enjoy this downtime and sweet rest we have been given. Take a breath. Get some extra sleep. Play with your kids. Write or paint or craft– cuz you probably haven’t done that in awhile. Bake up something yummy. Read. Visit a shut-in and *make their day*! Do some yoga or other exercise you enjoy. Make a cup of coffee or tea and get snuggly on the couch. Binge on Netflix. Get lost in your favorite music. Work on your gratitude journal. Call your parents.

SLOW DOWN. Enjoy this beautiful thing called LIFE.

#liveawakened #livefullyalive #slowdown #rest #restore #rejuvenate #stopcomplaining #dosomethingfun #enjoywinter

Meditate: Like A Child

As a child, I meditated all the time.

Now, I wouldn’t have called it “meditation” at the time– rather, I named it “playing outdoors“. But in essence, meditating was exactly what I was doing.

Sure I was out there making forts, climbing trees, go-carting & snowmobiling with the neighbors boys, stomping through ponds, etc. But I also spent hours (I literally mean: HOURS daily & weekly) just sitting there… staring out into nature… listening to the birds… zoning out… day-dreaming… watching the breeze rustle the leaves & grass… catching snow flakes & analyzing their intricate designs… observing bugs on the move… thinking about life & everything & nothing…

And if I wasn’t sitting somewhere, then I was hiking through the woods or riding my bike… usually alone… observing… fantasizing… entranced… wondering… quiet… smelling… watching… taking everything in…
Shoot, I was even out there tasting things: like wild strawberries & raspberries & apples I found, nuts that dropped from the trees by the road, clover, etc. (Nothing poisonous! LOL)

Rain… snow… sleet… hot… cold… Weather never deterred me. The world and nature absolutely entranced me. And anytime I got a spare moment, I would try to be out in it, enjoying whatever beautiful moment it could give me. Just couldn’t live without it.

It brought me PEACE inside.

HAPPINESS. CALM. BALANCE. RELAXATION. JOY.

And ultimately, it played a role in my SALVATION story. I’d heard about God & Jesus & the Holy Spirit & the Bible all at church. And one day, in one of my contemplative/enjoying-nature moments, something clicked inside me:

God knew every blade of grass, every leaf that falls, every call & feather of a bird, every snowflake, every star & cloud… How? Because He created all of it! And if nature is so amazing and beautiful and mesmerizing and entrancing and enthralling… then how much more is GOD, the One who made it all?! I finally shifted from worshiping the created to worshiping the Creator. He became my God & I accepted Jesus as my Lord & Savior on a warm summer sunset on a grassy hillside across the street from my house.


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Even during my college years… I made it outdoors nearly every single day to “meditate” alone: walking, rollerblading, finding a quiet bench/nook of a campus building in which to sit & enjoy nature (or journal), walking around the local park & along the river, sitting in my car with the windows rolled down/feeling the breeze, etc.

Something happened though when I became an adult/mother: my “mediation practice” pretty much stopped. Sure I took my kids outside regularly, but they wanted me to play with them, or someone pooped & I had to change a diaper :-), or they wanted to show me a caterpillar, etc.– nature was no longer a time without distraction. Plus, I had a bazillion kids (ok, 7… but it feels like a bazillion– *wink*)– so I was no longer able to spend time alone in nature like I used to. A one mile walk with my kiddos was about as far as their little legs could carry them– so gone were my long hikes & bike rides. And as much as I love my little darlings, they talk A LOT (like non-stop)– so my experiences with nature were no longer quiet.

Oh, my dear hubby would totally give me time-off from the mothering gig, but then in that time of freedom all I wanted to do was sleep (LOL).

I didn’t realize how vitally important getting alone in the quiet was for me (esp out in nature).
I didn’t realize it would totally fill my energy tank (& help me to be a better wife/mom/person).

I *could* have made it a priority.
I *could* have made time & opportunity for it.
I just didn’t understand how vitally important it was for my sheer sanity!

Do something enough & it becomes a habit. Do a habit enough & it becomes a script that constantly runs in the background (causing you to act instinctively without thought or notice). The habit of not getting alone (outdoors) to “meditate” had unfortunately become my daily norm. My “stress reliever” was now gone.

You can bet it caused me an emotional break at some point.
And you can bet anxiety/panic has been a close (but hated) companion of mine for the past almost 6 years.

About a year ago, I’d had enough: I wanted relief, I wanted release and rest and peace and just plain HAPPINESS. Since then, I’ve undergone HUGE strides of spiritual, emotional, and interpersonal growth (which I will share in future posts). I’ve plead with the Lord to help me see. And He’s been so loving in the process of bringing awareness. No big bites I couldn’t chew. Just consistent little baby steps that I could totally handle.

And FINALLY (like just here very recently!) I have become AWARE (thank You, Jesus!), have begun to peel back this layer of bad habit, and have been getting outside alone (yes even in these winter temps) to “meditate” in the quiet. And if it’s just too darn cold out, I’ve been MAKING the time to sit & do nothing indoors, to quiet my environment & mind, stare out a window, doodle in the frost on the windows, watch a candle flicker, listen to my fav calming music, stare at the ceiling, whatever! But it’s quiet… I’m alone… giving my mind a break… turning “off” for a bit.

It’s made me a better wife & mom. It’s made me a better homeschool teacher. It’s helped me become more patient and CHILL with disturbances. It’s helped calm me through stress & chaos that would normally undo me. It’s like I can finally breathe.

Meditation has deeply changed me. I SO wish I would have recognized the grand importance of maintaining my practice of “meditation” through all my early mothering years. Oh man, that would that have saved me a crap-ton of angst and turmoil and frustration and stress and just downright anger.

I’m finally so aware of it’s importance that I’ve been making it a daily practice for ALL (7) OF MY KIDS to meditate. No toys, no tech, no music, no writing/doodling, no nothing. Just go somewhere private & alone, either inside or out, and for 15-20 min daily they do NOTHING. No chores. No school. No conversations with their siblings. Seriously: nothing.

They say it’s the absolute BEST time of their day!!! They look SO forward to it. They even ASK me for it! “When can we meditate, mom?” ūüôā

I’m beginning to finally see just how vitally important meditation is for EVERYONE: even little babies/toddlers, teens, adults, elderly, & everything in-between.

Quiet your heart & mind for just a few minutes each day. Call it what you want (meditation, quiet time, taking a rest, a break, etc) but just DO IT. Turn “off”. Do nothing. Listen. Sleep (if you need it). Enjoy nature. Give your mind & body a break. Just for like 15-20 minutes daily. Believe me, you will deeply enjoy it– and it will so help you to be your best!!!

#liveawakened #livefullyalive #meditation #nature #getalone #turnoff #serenity #calmyourheartmindbody #itsthemostwonderfultimeoftheday #nevertoobusytomeditate

**And for all you Michiganders out there (that’s where I grew up!!!)… #puremichigan… you’ll enjoy this YouTube entry. Someone went down a dirt road/driveway somewhere in MI and recorded the local sounds of nature. BOY it took me back. It literally made me cry because THAT was my childhood. THAT was the background “music” of my childhood. I live in Indiana now and nature sounds a little differently– this was a total blast from my past– so thoroughly enjoyed it. I oftentimes actually listen to this tract when I’m alone & “meditating”. Enjoy!!! (esp if you’re from Michigan):

#yesmichiganthefeelingsforever #puremichigan

How To Naturally Remove Warts

Every once in a while, a wart will crop its ugly little head on either the hand or the foot of one of my little babes. Ugh. They just gross me out.

Wanted to share how we are able to quickly & naturally eliminate them!

Right there on the cuticle line you can see one growing. Blech.
Here’s the supplies you’ll need: organic apple cider vinegar, cotton pads (cut into 1/4’s), and bandaids.
If you have a little cup & lid like this, it’s SUPER helpful. We’ll put all the cut cotton pads in this and then pour the ACV until each pad is soaked. They’re now easily stored for later applications.
Put a soaked pad right on the wart.
Wrap the soaked pad with a bandaid.
Cut off the extra pad parts that stick out from the bandaid.
Voila
This is the very same wart after only 2 applications. In any one given day, we’ll change applications 1-2x, letting the finger air out a bit between. DEF leave one on overnight!
If you treat it aggressively, in about a week’s time it’ll be gone/dead. Even once we *think* it’s dead, we will treat it 1x/day for a couple days more (just to be sure).

Good luck!!!

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

comfort-zone

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. ūüôā 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. ūüôā

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

Chocolate

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I love this quote.

But upon further thinking… I realized something: with as awesome as chocolate is, there are still people out there that *don’t* like it. How? I have absolutely no idea. But they do exist.

So, if not everyone likes chocolate, or are at least “meh” about it, then you can be *guaranteed* that there will be people out there that don’t like you or are at least “meh” about your existence (for absolutely no understandable reason).

And that’s OK.

We were not placed on this earth to please people! We will die inside trying. We will fail in our attempts. We will miss out on the full and abundant life that God has for us on this planet. We will lose so much of our time and energy with this useless/impossible/futile pursuit. We will waste our potential. We will not be truly benefiting society with our skills and talents and abilities.

We will not be true to who we really are…
We will lose ourselves…
We’ll only be left feeling frustration, anger, resentment, and disillusionment…

Just be the *flavor* you are! Not everyone will like it. But some will. Many will, actually. Be who you were created to be. Focus on pleasing *God* instead. Pursue your dreams and passions. Do your thing. BE YOU.

Live awakened.  Live fully alive.