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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year in Pictorial Review - 2011

2011 is coming to a close. It's done. It's over and you're older. Are you wiser? What were your high moments? What changed you? What lessons did you learn and who do you need to make amends with? As the year comes to a close may you reflect on all that you have. Why? Because the wealthiest man is the one who can count his blessings. Happy New Year!


January
Birthdays are so special to my heart - I love remembering & loving & celebrating the birth of my children.

February
A major snow storm kept us indoors for days. 
March
Aaron, the perpetual coach, is a fantastic father to our children.
April
The twins show off their pieces at the annual Art Fair. A perk of small town living.
May
A stolen bike was returned boosting our faith in prayer.
June
The love of my life sent me to Storyline Conference in Portland OR
July
My team, working for the team!
August
Really? Driving?! She's so awesome!
September
A fantastic Fall for Football.
October
Mother Daughter trip to England.
November
Transformative Moments on my Timeline.
December
Learning the real meaning of gift.
I wasn't the only one with this idea! Here's a lovely linkup for  lots of bloggers who also did a pictorial year in review!

To Write a Better Story

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Finance Friday - End of the Year Edition

image via commentsyard.com
Well here we are the day before New Year's Eve. The last Finance Friday blog submission of the year.
Can I first say that I made it?
I really made it!
And I don't feel like I'm draggin' my sorry butt across the finish line. I have a sense that I may not have come in first in this race but I certainly didn't come in last, or worse.... quit.

I feel a sense of accomplishment.

Do you ever feel good about yourself to yourself? Do you ever have opportunity to? Have you ever given yourself a genuine pat on the back? To sit down and reflect about a thing and feel good in your heart of hearts about it?

God, this year had some ugly lows but it had some fantastically terrific highs.
I wouldn't trade a one of them.
I really wouldn't.

And I think that's the key. To come to terms with yourself and your life and journey. Are there some things I would have done differently?
Of course!
Do I have some regrets?
Naturally!
Do I wish for a different ending in some of the stories?
You betcha!

But I can't change the past.
I can say sorry.
I can do better.
I can be smarter.
I can work harder.
I can learn the lesson.
I can choose to go forward.
I can choose hope.
I choose hope.
I love hope.
I need hope.
I look forward to 2012 with great hope.
I invite you to have hope.
Hope in better.
Hope in all that is good.
Hope in God.
Hope in yourself.
Hope that with each passing day you are growing and learning.
And all that growing and learning is infusing your soul
forming you into the person
you are intended to be.
A person writing a better story.
Making a difference.
Making a life.
Making her way.

Be blessed in 2012 and enjoy this entry from October 14th.... my favorite Finance Friday blog from 2011:

Starting the Finance Friday themed blog has been the most therapeutic thing for me. I've learned a very important, yet personal lesson in this process. Had I kept quiet, shame and embarrassment may have eaten me alive from the inside out. I think it's quite possible to lock a secret inside so far that it begins to alter your belief system and damage (possibly irreparably) any shred of self confidence you have. Secrets when held inside have nothing to do but float around your brain. And an untamed thought can wreak havoc. Holding in things creates a one sided conversation. You think about what you know and you imagine what others would say if they knew what you held inside. We imagine and pretend how others would perceive us and almost all the time we imagine people being harsher with us than they really would be. So we begin to believe that others will shame and reject us. These thoughts swim around in our mind constantly. And we begin to believe what we think people would think about us, rather than give them a chance. You might find if given a chance, people, especially those who love you, will rise to the occasion, love you for who you are, not what you've done or how much money you don't make. 
If you keep your secret you'll drown in your forecasts of rejection.
But if you have a friend for which you can unburden yourself, you'll be swallowed up in love and acceptance.
I think that's a chance worth taking.

Finance Fridays was a big risk for me.
But the payoff was huge. 
Suddenly I'm not embarrassed.
Not ashamed.
I was mortified to be so forthcoming about our current financial situation but I've received nothing but love because of it.
And that's huge.
It means a lot!

Today, though, it was hard for me to come up with a Finance Friday blog. I've had a wicked combination of jet leg and re-entry shock the last few days since returning from a missions trip abroad. Then the week before that I wasn't writing two weeks ahead of time. 

But as I was out walking the dog this morning I was thinking and pondering my life & a Finance Friday entry. And at 6 in the morning, in the complete stillness of the neighborhood, I examined my heart and felt (read on here ...)








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Thursday, December 29, 2011

My 2011 Favorites! My Life (is a) Lesson

I'm going to spend the next few days posting some of my favorite blog entries from 2011.
I think it's important for myself to spend time reflecting as each year comes to a close.
I enjoyed going over the last 12 months of entries and a few really stood out to me.
Thank you for letting me share them with you.


This one .... is very near and dear to my heart. I would honestly say I could rewrite these very words right now. They still ring very, very true at this point in time even though it was originally posted in May.



My Life (is a) Lesson: Faith


Are you having a hard time, believer?



I have.


I am.


A lot has changed in my life these last few years. But even more has changed in me. In some ways I feel like I’ve been reborn. What I believed has been shaken. What I wanted was different. Where I formerly focused I’ve since abandoned.

How did I get here? What does this mean? And how is it that I feel more like my-true-self than ever?
Never, not once, though, was my faith abandoned. In fact, all the challenges and situations I’ve experienced have caused me to draw on my faith in a way I’ve never imagined.

Have you ever thought you’ve been trusting God, until you really have to trust God?


It’s a whole ‘nother level!

I know some who get mad at God and walk out of relationship with Him. That thought never even crossed my mind. Although I will admit I gave Him the silence treatment once.

Oh, yeah, and that time I yelled at Him.
Oh..and then there was that time I accused Him of forgetting me.

I guess you could say, we’ve had a less than perfect relationship. But I’m convinced that has more to do with me than it does with Him. I’m the less than perfect one.

This one thing I’m sure of, Ok two:
1. God is faithful and
2. I’m not the only one (surprise Ego!) who has ever felt the pain of loss (Luke 2:36-37), suffered for being a faithful servant (Acts 7:59) or have been depressed (I Kings 19:4).

I received a great reminder of this in my email box this morning from Alicia Britt Chole (her newest book is Intimate Conversations). God’s faithfulness, as the bible so clearly reminds us, is not invalidated by our suffering, it is in our suffering we experience His faithfulness. She reminds us that the writers of the bible,
“… understood rejection, betrayal, wars, hostile living conditions, the loss of children, and family strife. They were well acquainted with homelessness, false accusations, stonings, and emotional deserts. They knew sickness, deep discouragement, failure, bitter conflict, and persecution.”

Ah! so ... I'm not alone!

I am thankful, so very thankful, for the faithfulness of God. For without it there would be no hope. My belief remains certain that my eyes are incapable of seeing the eternal agenda my heavenly Father has for me. Yes, I believe He is that intimately involved in my life. I know He loves me and cares for me and see’s the pain and trials I’ve been through and will probably still go through.

I don’t serve Him to get out of life's pain. I love Him because in the pain I find myself seeking Him in a way heretofore unbeknownst to me.

And I find Him.

Every time I seek Him, cry out to Him, need Him He is amazingly faithful. He is always there.

Be blessed!



To Write a Better Story

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

a Real Gift - Merry Christmas

The day has finally arrived - Christmas.
It's all been building to this.
My kids are overstimulated
I am up to my elbows in recipes
our movie marathon is well underway
the Christmas cards have finally been addressed and sent
almost everything is wrapped & prepped
and
today I continue to feel like one of the most blessed women on the planet.

And lest you think I over exaggerate I am not.

I have been brutally reminded of the experience of receiving a gift.

Wait!? What!? Receive a gift? Don't you do that every birthday and Christmas?!

Yes, but and especially time of year we
make gift lists
and shop for gifts
and wrap gifts
and it's about the gifts, gifts, gifts.

Have we used that word so much that the real meaning of it is lost?

I was given a gift recently.
A gift that initially - I didn't want.
A big, wrapped up, anonymous surprise that ... I didn't want.

I was afraid I had portrayed my family as needy.
I wanted no pity.
I had signed up for retail work so that we could have a Christmas
I was going to take care of the gift giving this year.
I was.

I worked ungodly hours.
I saved every penny.
I shopped with impressive consumer savvy.
I was in charge of the gift giving this year.

or so I thought.

Dear Friends of Santa, you have, in one fell swoop, reminded me of the real reason behind the season. You see, a true gift is only a gift if you receive it.
A gift is not a gift if you can earn it - that's called a reward.
A true gift is not even deserved.
It's not even one that you asked for - that's called a request.
A gift - in it's true meaning -  is an unadulterated, unsolicited, undeserved blessing.
And you can't receive a blessing if you don't accept it.
You can't get hung up on whether you feel worthy to receive
or embarrassed that you've been given
or any of the number of emotions that
your mind tries to sneak into your soul.

A real gift is amazing.
A real gift is free.
A real gift you can never pay back.
A real gift is one you never forget.

I will never forget this Christmas.

Christmas: the holiday that, at it's root is a remembrance of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior come to earth to redeem our souls. A special heavenly birth that is a real, free, undeserved gift to all mankind.

Romans 5:15 "But the gift that God was kind enough to give was very different from Adams's sin. That one sin brought death to many others. Yet in an even greater way, Jesus Christ alone brought God's gift of kindness to many people"

You, like me, might have gifts to open this Christmas week but I pray with all my heart you too could somehow remember the power of
a real
true
gift.

Some gifts are wrapped in paper and bows
and one is wrapped in a swaddling cloths.

May both find you.
May both comfort you.
May both remind you ... Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.

Merry Christmas, Stephanie



To Write a Better Story

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Edition: Finance Friday

It's the night before Christmas Eve
and our home is filled with sweet treats, rambunctious children and love.
Lots of love.

I honestly cannot remember the last time I felt this blessed.

A mentor of mine once taught me that in life we make decisions and then the decision makes us.
That is: every choice we make has a re-action or maybe even a consequence.
We can't do anything on our own.
Where we go, what we buy, who we love ... all of it generates this subsequent activity.
We are not on this planet alone.
We cannot not affect others.

We decided as a family to send Aaron back to school.
That decision started a domino effect
of reactions and consequences ... both good AND bad.

Sometimes when you make the hard decisions they remain hard and difficult to live through ... even though you know you made that choice of your own free will. And if anything I am learning in this season of life is that the best things often require a little blood sweat and tears. That is, hard work.

But this is what I love about the journey of life.
Life will sometimes give you signs along the way.
Here we were feeling a little deserted. A little forlorn. Borderline remorseful. Questioning our sanity. Wondering if we were gonna be able to see this through
when
there all of a sudden out of the blue
you get a sign

a letter of exhortation
a visit from Santa
an encouraging word
the priceless gift of friendship
a hug
a well timed word
Nutella, Sweet Tea & VIA
and all things Christmas ... cards, presents and surprises.

I sit here in my humble, humble life pretty sure I am the wealthiest women in town.
I am rich with friends, love, health and family.


I am not blind. I can see the signs along the way.
The sign reads: You are doing great! Keep it up! Journey Straight Ahead!

Thank you friends. Thank you.
Let's journey ahead together, shall we?



side note: My darling husband Aaron is awesome. He has just completed his first semester at WIU and he is sporting straight A's, a 4.0 GPA, is on the Dean's List and received a letter from the Chair Professor from the Political Science Department asking him to consider a future in that field. Way to go baby! We are all behind you and nobody, NOBODY is prouder of you than me! 











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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Soulful Metronome

So recently in the midst of my daily, mundane, hectic, before school routine I had an epiphany.
(I wrote a about it HERE).
Here's the gist of it ... I saw a house decorated with Christmas lights that were still illuminated in the morning. Now get this - I love Christmas lights! I look at them! I admire them! They make me feel warm and cozy in my soul. Especially the white ones. But on this morning the white lights I observed didn't look so ... special. Which was kinda disappointing to me. Which made me think how much more pretty they are in the night.
When it's dark.
And how if that's true for Christmas lights how that must be true for everything.

All light is more effective/luminous when shining in the dark.
The dark.
The dark is not typically referred to as a good place.
Even children know that. That's why they need night lights and monster spray and extra cuddles from their mom at bedtime.

Dark places are the places where our imaginations run wild
and our fears are given space
and where we hide our ugliness.

It's where I hide my ugliness
my shame
and embarrassment
and hurts.

We all do really. But me especially. Even though I often come off as an open book I have my own dark spaces reserved in my own heart for all those things I just don't want you to know. Or I pretend don't exist about myself.

It's that little crack, a crevice really, in the recesses of my soul where I never want anyone to see.

But light illuminates the dark.
When light is brought to dark the dark must recede.
It must.
It's the law of nature.
Dark cannot overcome light.
Dark is merely the absence of it.
So when Christmas lights are lit at night they are beautiful
and when light invades darkness it too is illuminating.
Light waltzes into dark, exposes what's been hidden and redeems.

At least that's what happened to me.


My heart - the part I don't let anyone ever see - has been in a constant state of motion.
It's like this metronome that ticks left and right never stopping
pride - shame - get over it - pride - shame - get over it - pride - shame - get over it
on and on
it has been keeping the beat of my recent life
sometimes quickly
sometimes slower
but it ticks pride and tocks shame and ticks pride and tocks shame.

Where I work.
What we make.
How many kids I have.
What I don't have.
What I can't buy.
What we drive.
Where live.
My mind literally exhausts me at times with all it's shameful acrobatics.

Can you relate? (please - somebody! tell me you can)

For the previous 2 Christmases we were in want and secretly in my heart I hoped someone would notice. I shook my fist at the heavens and wondered if God had forgotten our family. I couldn't understand how if we loved Him he wasn't loving us back. (Mistakenly I thought His love meant I could have what I wanted, when I wanted, my way.)

Funny, huh?

But this Christmas! Ah! THIS Christmas I was going to be a holiday hero. I was going to bust my minimum-ish wage butt and I was going to make sure my kids got a gift.
Who needs others?
Not me!
In fact, if I'm totally honest I'd admit I didn't even need (want?) Divine help this year (Gasp!). Our Christmas was going to be all about me and what I've done to make it happen.

And then Light waltzed right into my sanctimonious, dark heart. Exposing my invented lies. Revealing my bad attitude. Illuminating my pride. Proving to me I was wrong. I not only needed help (we all do on occasion) but I was taught an important, nay! an imperative lesson: the real meaning of a true gift.

And what better time than Christmas to be scolded on Light, Love and Gifts?
What was this gift I received?
Check back on Christmas when I will share the story of my great gift, but in the meantime .... you all should know that I believe in Santa!


sidenote: May I encourage you, dear reader, to be free and brave enough to face the dark places of your heart. Remember darkness is the absence of light. Let light shine in your crevices. While it seems scary to be so revealed I can't hardly express to you how freeing it is. Light always overcomes darkness. You don't have to live with dark corners in your heart or mind. You don't have to. Let Love come in. Don't block the light. Don't be afraid of the illumination. Let Love come in.

To Write a Better Story

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Menu Monday - Holiday Baking

Today's Menu Monday is not our family's meals for the week .... oh no! I'm in the mood to bake!


So here's what we'll be creating in our kitchen this week:

Turtle Pretzels


Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Sugar Cookies

Cookie Dough Truffles


Heavenly Hash


Pretzel Rods






Merry Christmas friends! May your tummies be full of yummies, your heart with peace and your home with love!

Check out Menu Plan Monday here for more great ideas!




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Friday, December 16, 2011

Finance Friday - Guest Post

I have a guest post today ... Halee, my 16 year old daughter. She's on the Speech Team this year for the first time and she's doing amazing. I mean, can you imagine a junior in high school signing up for essay writing? public speaking? and subjecting herself to judging on both the aforementioned?
A-MAAAZING!

I'm a totally proud Mamma!

Her speech is in the OO category
(which stands for Original Oratory).
She choose the subject,
she stands up and presents it
she competes with this speech.

With her permission I'd like to share it with you today as a part of my Finance Friday series:

Picture this. There are two families standing in line at Wal-Mart waiting to buy their groceries. They both have children. Both of these families have working parents. They both are dressed in regular clothes. Both of these families have a house, a car, pretty much all of the essential things needed for a solid lifestyle. At sight, you would assume that both of these families are normal and about the same. The difference? The card in their hand. The second family standing in line is paying with food stamps. Why? Because they are living in poverty. Poverty. It’s really quite a simple word; however, it has a huge meaning. It has a meaning that’s quickly making a large impact on our society. More people than ever are now falling below the official line of poverty. But mostly, those people who are falling below the line have are giving a new face to poverty. Today we are going to better understand the most recent poverty statistics, we are going to explore what the face of modern poverty looks like, and finally I will suggest to you the shift in societal thinking that is required to understand this new face of poverty.

According to Webster’s dictionary, poverty is the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions. In other words, poverty is not simply a lack of income, it is also a lack of certain things by cultural standards. But how far can we take this? Obviously, a child whose parent cannot feed him or her dinner tonight is in an extreme poverty situation. But what about the child whose parents are working, but their paychecks don’t cover their living expenses. His food situation is also unstable. There are levels to poverty. This is obvious just by the two examples I’ve given you. However, the statistics that I have quoted today clearly indicate that poverty is on the rise, and is more common for many Americans. So then is Merriam-Webster suggesting a child with food, but no video games falls into this category of poverty simply because they don’t have socially acceptable possessions? Regardless of how you feel about poverty, and who should be classified as low income, the reality is many people are suffering and struggling to make ends meet.

You would be surprised to learn that the US Census Bureau in 2010 reported that an additional 2.6 million people are now classified as living below the line of poverty. That’s an increase of 15% in just one year. According to the New York Times, as of today there are 46.2 million people in our country who are struggling because they live below that official line. The Heartland Alliance reports that 1.5 million of that number live right here, in our own state. 13.3% of Illinoisans are struggling. And just like our national average, that number increased by 24% in the last decade. So why is poverty on such a drastic rise? Well, of course financial experts continue to argue about the effects of our current recession, but more importantly the reality people need help. The reality is, people can’t buy food. The reality is that this is a real problem for real people. It’s more than a piece of paper sitting on the desk of a congressman.

Obviously there are a few reasons for this huge deficit in American society today. Number one, a major reason is the bad economy. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics almost 13.9 million people are unemployed. Who’s to blame for the unemployment? Everyone can try to place the blame on other people but that still doesn’t solve the problem. The government has tried multiple things to solve this never-ending problem. One is a progressive income tax. There are also public assistance programs which include medicare and food stamps, for example.

So what do you think of when I say the word poverty? Do you imagine a homeless person? Do you think it’s a child orphaned in the foster system? Is it a family living in public housing? Yes! But so is a dual income married couple earning minimum wage. One of the greatest things that we need to understand is that the face of poverty is no longer the face of a starving child in an abandoned alley. Poverty according to our own government guidelines includes both people who look like they need assistance and people who don’t. Formerly, middle class white preppy looking families are struggling and are applying for help in ever growing numbers.

A recent segment aired on NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams which highlighted two families from Idaho. They both work. They both have kids. And they both have empty refrigerators. The journalist Kate Snow reported that a lot of Americans are angered by this new face of poverty. The families they highlighted had SUVs, houses full of things, but this is simply a reminder of better days. Now they face the harsh reality of living paycheck to paycheck. These families have to wait until the first of the month early in the morning when a certain amount of government assistance is added to their bank account through a program called SNAP. SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and is available to families who qualify based on our government’s standards of income. Particularly, in light of our recent recession, many families who are on SNAP, had more than enough 5 years ago. But now, they struggle to make ends meet. So when you see them, they don’t look like the typical face of poverty. And yet, they are not able to put food on their table. This is frustrating to many Americans. Some Americans don’t understand that the face of poverty is changing.

It’s clear that a shift needs to happen. We need to; me, and you, and my classmates, and neighbors, and community, all of us need to realize, whether we like it or not, that the face of poverty is changing. Society needs to change its opinion as well. We need to show compassion for these kinds of people. People may argue that there are people who are abusing the system. But, there are also people who have legitimate needs and without the assistance, their children would be hungry. Should we get rid of the system? No, some people need it. Should we fix the system? Without a doubt. But I don’t see that happening, unfortunately, any time soon. Societal thinking needs a shift. Our government needs a shift. If we want change to happen, the change needs to be in our attitude. We need to take away the stigma so that people are less embarrassed. In Kate Snow’s report on Rock Center, the woman featured was ashamed to use a SNAP card at the grocery store. Why is she ashamed? Because society is quick to judge. Should she be ashamed? No. There are 46.2 million people just like this woman. Struggling. Using a SNAP card. Forced to tell their children at home that they can’t afford to buy that extra book at the book fair for them. Overall, many people are struggling.

In the words of Mother Teresa, “we think that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty.” Now more than ever, more people are falling below the line of poverty. However, you may not even be able to recognize it. The face of poverty is changing. And society needs to accept this. The solution to this is not having people donate to charity. Yes, this may help, but in the long run the only thing that will really solve this is society beginning to understand that the face of poverty is not what it used to be. The face of poverty is your next door neighbor, whether you realize it or not.

But overall, who decides what the level of poverty is? Has that person really lived in a poverty defined person’s shoes? Just because someone doesn’t have all of the new “material possessions”, does that put them in a class labeled poverty? I think there are different levels of poverty. Obviously, the kids who don’t have much food at home, who have a terrible home life are in poverty. But there’s kids out there who may not be poor, they have food at home, they have a fine home life, but maybe they don’t have the newest gaming system because their family doesn’t have any extra spending money. Does that still classify them as living in poverty?

So a question we have to ask ourselves is what can be done to fix this? Some schools have tried various programs. One they have done in our school system is something called a backpack program. In that they fill backpacks for students who require for free lunch and send them home over the weekend with a backpack of food so they don’t go hungry over the weekend. But is sending a child living in poverty home with a backpack full of food going to stop the increase of poverty? (I think) the answer is no. To solve the ever rising numbers of poverty, it’s going to take a group effort. One person or one thing isn’t going to fix this. And this can’t be fixed quickly. It’s going to take time. This is almost a government issue as much as an issue within the people. These statistics would certainly go down if we weren’t in a recession, if more jobs were available. And also, if you want to see for yourself what the new face of poverty looks like .... well, it looks like me.


That's my girl! My girl!



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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Let Your Light Shine

image from atlantaintownpaper.com
Since 6 a.m. I've been up.
I put breakfast in the oven
saw my son for 5 minutes
woke up the other 4
sent the teen off to her morning babysitting job
warmed up the car
collected the laundry
got myself ready (sorta, I forgot to brush my teeth!)
sholved in ate my breakfast
left the dirty pans on the stove
made a cup of coffee to go
and picked up the neighbor kids
for the morning school run

oh but wait, this entry isn't about everything I do within the first hour of my day

As I was driving around town this morning I saw a home with their Christmas lights still on. I was struck how, in the morning hours, the lights just aren't nearly as pretty as they are at night.

And that got me thinking about the instruction the bible gives us about being the light of the earth.
Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on it's stand, and it gives light to everyone inthe house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see you good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." the Book of Matthew 5:14-16 NIV
If it's true that the holiday lights are so much more beautiful when lit at night, couldn't the same be said for the light that we carry inside of us? You see, I believe we have luninous capabilities. I believe when God breathed in Adam at the beginning of time He still resides in us with every breath we take. Whether we recognize Him or not. I think that breath, that life, is like Light and Love. And I think we can share it. I think we should share our light. As the old children's Sunday school song sings, "Hide it under a bushel? No! I'm gonna let it shine!"

Those simple holiday lights shining in the morn got me thinking ... is it enough to let the light shine? Or should we illuminate the dark places so that the Light we share becomes even more beautiful? And if the answer is yes, shouldn't we strive to position ourselves in dark places?

But it's the dark places.
Scary places.
Unlovely places.
Where hurts reside
and anger bubbles under the surface.

Yes. It's all these things and more. Which is precisely why the light is so desperately needed.

Do you carry light?

If you can smile
give
encourage
speak kindly
help
volunteer
or share

you have light.

Giving, especially this time of year, from what you have is a glorious act. Everyone, rich or poor, can offer a smile or hug - can say a kind word, be extra patient and look for ways to encourage your fellow mankind rather than destroy. Tearing down is easy. Building takes work.

Don't bring dark to dark.
Bring light to dark.
Waltz into darkness bearing joy and happiness and watch how beautiful the Light is when it shines.


Someone has waltzed into the dark crevice of my heart this week. Stay tuned as I flesh out my thoughts and feelings on what it feels like to have the dark in you exposed by the love and light of others.




To Write a Better Story

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Nag No More!


image from thesoulfulparent.com
 As a parent I often feel like I am talking constantly. I give instructions, I offer advice, I dish out warnings, I referee and remind my kids again and again (and again) what they need to do and the truth is its exhausting.

And I can't help but wonder; if I'm tired of hearing me - how exhausted are my children? I mean we all do the same thing when we are tired of something; we ignore it. Or in my case tune me out. I can't necessarily blame them. I do gab, nag, yell (no! I don't yell, do I?) and harp quite a bit.

But what's a mom to do? I got kids. I got stuff to do. They got stuff to do and they won't do their stuff without my reminding them.

Or will they?

I don't know if you're like me but I find it very easy to get so caught up in all the doing of parenthood that I rarely, if ever, allow myself to enjoy the being aspect of it.
Allow me to explain.

Parenting requires a lot. A lot of energy. A lot of patience. A lot of, well, everything. Recently I wasn't keeping up with the demands of the kids and their schedules and the housework all that well so I threw up the white flag. It was one of those days where I was literally exhausted and at the end of my rope. I knew I had two decisions, go crazy or mentally walk away from it all. Walk away from the laundry, the dishes, the endless piles of papers and unmade beds. I could choose to vent at all the undone tasks my children knowingly ignored or exhale deeply and just let it be. Recognizing I literally didn't even have the energy to begin a nag session I choose to let it all be.

I don't know if it was the shock that caused my children to behave or perhaps, and maybe more likely, they were so overwhelmed with relief that I wasn't all over their backs that they couldn’t help but respond accordingly. Their transformation was so stunning that I walked out the front door to look at the number on my mailbox. I was sure I had come home to the wrong house.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Menu Monday

Another week has gone by and to be honest with you it seems like one big blur of work, laundry, kitchen duty and under eye concealer.

Nonetheless my family has to eat and so on Sunday evening I sat down again with our family's schedule & a list of what's in the pantry. Then I created this plan.

I call it Menu Monday.
My DH (darling husband) calls it brilliant
and (sometimes) the kids call it delicious!

I consider cooking for my Tribe more than a chore. I imagine it's my way of offering them the nourishment they need to thrive as well as it being an opportunity to gather them around the table -and in a season where we are bogged down with work, school and games - bringing everyone around a meal is time that I personally treasure.

May you too, find your own way to love and care for your family. Whether it's in the kitchen, the car or over bedtime stories and snuggles, I hope you are carving out memorable moments for your family.

Monday
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches & Tomato Soup

Tuesday
Macaroni & Cheese from www.frommytinykitchen.blogspot.com & slices of ham on the side

Wednesday
Frozen Pizza
(mama had to work during dinner)

Thursday
Rotini Pasta with Alfredo Sauce and Garlic Toast

Friday
Buffalo Chicken Drummies, waffle fry nachos, onion rings, celery & carrot sticks and Cresent pepperoni roll ups from www.plainchicken.com (Bdubs ain't got nothing on me!!)

Saturday
Crock Pot Taco Soup from Lori Heckenberg on the Facebook recipe exchange & Cheese Quesadillas

Sunday
Brunch - Cinnamon Rolls
Lunch & Dinner = YoYo (your on your own)


(I love love collecting recipes online and as you can see from my menu I tried some new recipes. However the waffle fry nachos are one of my family's favorites! and my hubby fell in love with the Taco Soup recipe! So to all you cyber friends who post your recipes I LUV it! Don't stop! I'll give you the link up and credit whenever I can! And check out http://www.orgjunkie.com/ ... I heart her site too!)





To Write a Better Story

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