17 Things I love

I am a typical goal setting, competitive type A who always wants to do 17 things at once.  But that usually just makes me busy, not better.

I don’t want to miss this one shot at life.  My 90 yr old grandmother once told me the precious words that forever ring in my ears, “people miss so much when they are in a hurry”

It’s a process that I have not mastered but I am starting to list 3 things each night before I go to bed that I am thankful for.  Day by day I am learning how much I have to appreciate.  I am learning to take it slower, smell the roses longer and just enjoy the simple stuff…like….

1) The smell of rain

2) The way a 7 year old with 4 missing teeth says “sea shells”

3) The way Bryan enjoys stories about our girls as much as I do.

4) My amazing singing voice when I am alone in the car and the radio is turned up REALLY loud (amazing is a relative term in this sentence).

5) How a tiny seed can grow into a great big plant, just because God said so.

6) This adorable key necklace made by my friend Susie Miller that reminds me to pray for my sisters trapped in modern day slavery.

key

7) 80’s music

8) Chai Tea Lattes

9) My friend Faith Williams who unapologetically chases Jesus with all of her adorable 20-year-old self. Writes with wisdom of someone twice her age at her beautiful blog  and manages the sorority girls can change the world insta account. Because she is also really good at PR.

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10) Anyting written by Mark Batterson.  I have read this one in particular 3 times

11) Less clothes in my closet and more donations to people who don’t have as much

12) A Bible with notes and highlights all over the pages

13) Friends who invite me in even when their house isn’t perfect

14) These two amazing women who are speaking to college women about our great big God at Georgia Southern University!

Jordan Lee (soul Scripts) And Stephanie May Wilson (lipstick gospel)  If you are not already following them.  Please click on their names and fix that ASAP.

Stephanie Mae Wilson and Katie Bulmer

15) Friends that get me. You know the ones. You don’t have to explain anything because they totally get you. I love them.

16) Fake eye lashes.  OMG I know I’m a total diva but I’m obsessed and I don’t care what you think

17) Cuddles with Bryan on the couch watching “this is us” on NBC

What are you loving this time of year?

I wannabe a weirdo

We are all subject to peer pressure whether we admit it or not.  But when your peers are doing some questionable things its time to go against the grain.  Here is a snapshot of our typical “normal” peer in America:

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, at least 8 million Americans are at least one month behind on their mortgage payments at this point.

Average household debt in the United States has now reached a level of 136% of average household income.  In China, average household debt is only 17% of average household income.

Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today,one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.

The average US household credit card debt stands at $15,216 

Average mortgage debt: $148,443

Average student loan debt: $32,054 (source)

Of all countries, the United States has the highest rate of obesity. From 13% obesity in 1962, to 35.7% in 2010 (source)

55 percent of all marriages result in divorce. (source)

Research indicates that people who live together prior to getting married are more likely to have marriages that end in divorce. ” The Boston Herald

The average American spends 2.7 hours a day watching TV (source)

“More than ever before, work dominates people’s lives in this country” –Joanne B. Ciulla,

One-third of children age 8 – 17 believe their parent has been always or often worried or stressed out about things during the past month.

weirdo

If the average “normal” American is financially upside down, unhealthy, overworked, in a bad relationship and stressed out…then I don’t think being normal sounds so fun.

Craig Groschel wrote a book (I highly recommend) called “Weird because normal isn’t working” that states, “when people describe his family as weird, he finds comfort.”  I couldn’t agree more.

The bible tells us: If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. John 15:19

“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me first”.-Jesus

Living differently sometimes results in criticism.  Going with the crowd can be so easy that being “weird” requires seeking correct guidance and it isn’t always  the easiest route.  I don’t want our family to be a statistic.  I want us to be…well…weird.  

I want to be so WEIRD I save up to buy things and delay gratification instead of buying on credit.

I want to such a WEIRDO that I could stand living with less if it means I can have less stress and more time with my family.

I want to be the WEIRD family that guards the media that comes into our home.

I want to be so WEIRD that I eat food whose ingredients I can pronounce.

I want so be so WEIRD that I take INTENTIONAL time with my husband so we can still be in love years after the, “I do.”

And I want so be criticized for saying NO to something good so I can say YES to something great.

What do you think about all this weird talk.  Are you a weirdo too?

Media Minimization March week 1 what I have learned so far

Our first true test of this whole media minimization came quickly.  The second day of March was on a Saturday.  It was the first Saturday in ages we had NOTHING planed.

Not a birthday party, baby shower, or a single thing on the agenda.  It was FREEZING outside and we are sticking to 7 hours TOTAL of any screen time at all per WEEK.  (click here for why)

Sooooo what’s a family to do?

We got creative.  We went swimming under the dome at the local park, we did puzzles and went for ice cream after dinner.

I was worried the kids would rebel against the whole idea but they kind of like it.  The great thing about kids is their ability to go with the flow.  When the screen time is up, it’s up.  And it’s time to get creative.

For me, I have had a hard time justifying what is “work” and legitimate internet time and what isn’t.  So the rule obeyer in me (she’s very small but still there) decided to give up instagram and any status updates (facebook or twitter) for the month as well.  Those are much more of a sacrifice for me (I miss you instagram) but in sacrifice we grow BIG time.

You know how many people have missed my updates?  Let me count…..Hmmm…..ZERO.  Not only can I live without social media, it can also get along just fine without me.  

Bryan is limiting TV and other media as well.  We have MANY more conversations in the evening without computers or TV’s to compete with.  This whole experiment is way more tolerable together.  We hold each other accountable too.

But it’s not all happy puzzle time and ice cream either .  Media is not all bad.  Here are the cons I have experienced:

1) Status updates are kinda handy.  Anybody know how to fix a fridge?  And if you had to pick one would you choose a trampoline or swing set for your backyard?
(updates I have wanted to post lately)

2) I don’t take near as many pictures.  I never realized it but I was taking pictures mostly for social media purposes.  Please humor me and tell me how cute this little collage is of Ava at the mall the other day.  She was dancing in front of the mirror.

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At the end of the day this teeny tiny, hardly mentionable “sacrifice” helps remind me of the millions of people who have so much less than me.

Everyday, several times a day, when I stop myself from thumbing through my phone, I am reminded of HOW MUCH we have.  We are blessed beyond measure.  If limiting media can help remind me to enjoy the HERE and now, be present, and become less distracted…then I am all for it.

Choosing to cheat

I told my husband the other day I could stay up all night long and still have way too much on my to do list, to which he responded, “shorten your to-do list”

Profound!  Simple, maybe even obvious but I thought it was brilliant…he’s a smart guy.  I think all of us have expectations we place on ourselves that don’t REALLY have to be done. 

Andy Stanley wrote a book called “choosing to cheat” The premise states that we cannot possibly do everything so we must cheat in one or more areas of our life.  There are simply not enough hours in a day or days in a year to do and be everything we want.  We are then faced with the choice to decide what is most important.

Although we don’t see it this way it is even a little egotistical to think we are soooo important that we must get so much done.  If the world will keep spinning and no one will be physically harmed if we don’t complete the task then is it really THAT important? 

Cheating suggestions:

Housework:  Everyone has different “must does’” for a clean home.  I think it is essential to take a moment to define what a clean home is to you.  What is most important and what areas can you cheat? It will just get dirty again anyway!

The Internet:  Rescue time is a free internet service designed to keep you accountable for how much time you spend on the net.  On average it rescues people from almost 4 hours of time a week! 

Television: Along with the internet these are the two biggest time suckers for most families.  Be intentional with your television.  Ask is this show WORTH my time?  Give yourself a number you are comfortable with for hours spent per week in front of the tube. 

Extra activities:  If your kids are in soccer, dance, karate, football, and piano all at the same time you might want to take a step back and ask what is most important and what is not.  Or maybe you are the president of the PTA, the bible study leader, the volunteer and the helper for EVERYTHING in your city.  Just incase you need permission…It’s okay to say no.
(ouch I am so guilty of this)

Work more effectively:  No matter where you work: in an office or at home there are ways to work more efficiently.  4 hour work week  is a book dedicated to helping your work more effectively.

Barter anyone?:  You can’t do it all but together we can.  Babysitting is a great way to trade services.  You watch my kids and I’ll watch yours.  I have a friend that does all my monogramming and I make her little girls hair bows.  PERFECT!! 

What is a skill or service you can offer?  Trading is much more fun that spending money and is a helpful way to get what you need by “cheating” 

Share your thoughts: In what ways do you “cheat?”


I want a new type of Christianity that isn’t new at all

I think somewhere along the way we started defining Christians as those who don’t drink or cuss.   A well behaved, church-going, middle classed American is what we think we will see the most of in heaven. 

Heart shaped wreath on door of shed

Is that what Jesus died for? 

God is really big…I mean REALLY BIG.  He created the whole world, every crazy creature from bugs to whales, the galaxies, the plants, and the amazing machine that is the human body.  And with all of this he said man was his most prized creation.  With great detail he made each of us in his image.  He created us with a will.  To choose to love him…or not. 

He could have very easily just made us love him…but that wouldn’t be true love. It wasn’t long before we messed up pretty bad.  The gap became so great between a Holy God and a sinful man that only a cross, with an innocent sacrifice could bridge the divide.  None of us could pay the price….so he sent his son to pay it for us. 

That is a love so deep I still can’t wrap my head around it.   It’s like giving one of our children to pay for a crime they didn’t commit! 

It is a relentless, selfless, all-consuming, heart-wrenching love. 

The gospel costs nothing. We cannot buy it or earn it. It can only be received as a free gift, compliments of God’s grace. So it costs nothing, but it demands everything. And that is where most of us get stuck — spiritual no-man’s-land. We’re too Christian to enjoy sin and too sinful to enjoy Christ. We’ve got just enough Jesus to be informed, but not enough to be transformed.-Mark Batterson

I desire a “new” type of Christianity that really isn’t new at all.   A Christianity that worries less about appearances and more about carrying each other’s burdens. Christians that desire to live simply so that others may simply live.  A people so overwhelmed with love from God, that they can’t help but pour it out to everyone they meet.

When we truly grasp how much we are loved, we can’t help but love him back.   We will want to fellowship with Him by getting our hands dirty serving.  We will want to give others grace because we realize how much grace has been given to us.  We will want to love others even though they don’t deserve it, because that is the kind of love that was show to us.

I love your comments.  What do you think?

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17 Cheap (and romantic) date night ideas

Want to have a fun date night?  Don’t have a lot of cash?  Then I hope this list helps you enjoy your date and save some cash too!

First things first, if you have kids, babysitters are expensive.  Talk to a group of friends about setting up a babysitting co-op.  Where you trade out “tokens” for babysitting instead of cash. 

Now that the kiddos are settled in here are a few cheap and romantic ideas:

  1. Walk down memory lane:  Reminisce on how you first met, your dating life, wedding, and early marriage.  Get those butterflies back in action! 
  2. Stare at the stars INSIDE:  Go to the Planetarium, learn about our universe and cuddle with your sweetie. 
  3. Enjoy the weather together.  Depending on the time of year ice skating, picnics, or going for a swim are all fun date nights.  
  4. Dress Rehearsal: Got a play in your local theater you would love to see but don’t want to pay for tickets?  Call around to see if you can attend the dress rehearsal.  They are often a fraction of the price and sometimes FREE!
  5. Cuddle up with a book:  The book store is our personal favorite cheap date.  I grab a book about gardening or kids and he grabs a magazine or book on sports and we sit together sipping coffee and playing footsie.
  6. Dinner Coupons: www.Restaurant.com has specials and be sure to check your local paper or weekly circular for local coupons. 
  7. Just dessert:  You can have dinner at home, put the kids to bed, then go out for dessert and coffee.  Babysitters usually don’t expect as much if the kids are sleeping the whole time.  I have friends that trade out with a neighbor and do this once a week!
  8. Play 40 questions:  Print out this Conversation starters booklet and get to know each other better.
  9. Take a Tour:  You would be surprised at all the places that would be glad to give you a tour of their business if you just ask.  Candy shops, distribution centers, factories,  whatever interest you and is close to where you live.
  10. Flea Markets browsing:  There’s something for everyone at a flea market and plenty of things you never knew existed — you might even discover he has a hobby or weird collection you didn’t know about…plus often times there is cotton candy. 
  11. Art museum:  Even if you don’t live near the Guggenheim almost every city offers art on display at a local city building or college.  Just for fun dress up and talk with your best English accent as you study the art.
  12. Botanical Gardens:  Almost every town has an amazing world of horticulture just waiting to be explored.  Call in advance and they will gladly give you a tour.  
  13. Share what you love: Spend time teaching each other about your favorite hobby or skill.  Playing an instrument, gardening, crafting, photography etc.  You may be surprised how much you enjoy their hobby. 
  14. Be a tourist in your own home town.  We went on charted tour (very inexpensive) of a neighboring city and learned more than we ever learned living nearby for years!  Contact your local visitors bureau for events and tour information.
  15. Open mic/karaoke night: Check out the nearest karaoke or open mic night.  Even if you don’t participate you will enjoy free talent or lack there of (which is sometimes even better). 
  16. Local College/University events: If you live near a college log on to the school’s website and check out the schedule of events.  Schools will open large events, from lectures & panels, to movie screenings and plays.  Usually free to the public.
  17. Go back home: If you took the kids to a friends house, go back home.  Light a few candles…need I say more?

 What is your favorite cheap date night?