Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tortoise Tuesday - Margins

We live in a day of information and activity overload.  Seems like the most popular answer to the question "How are you?" is "busy".  I have begun to really dislike that word.   All too often, that is my answer... busy.   We over-schedule, filling up our days, running from activity to activity,  cramming our brains with more information... faster, more, ... busy.    We act as if there is just not enough time to do it all.  Guess what?  There isn't.

Here is a new word I am working into my life... margins.  That is a word I am far more fond of than busy.  I have know this word for most of my life but I haven't lived with it.  The margins I am talking about are those that are defined by dictionary.com as:  "an amount allowed or available beyond what is actually necessary".   Leaving space both physically, mentally, and planning-wise is what I am seeking.    White space.  Space to breath, listen, learn, be.... space to be available for the urgent and important.   

Recently I read a good book by Richard Swenson, M.D..  Can you guess the title?   It is Margin.  I would highly recommend it.  The premise is that we need to leave margins in our lives in all areas so that we are not overloaded and overdone.  Hmm... homes uncluttered with space to move around, schedules with room to breathe and for relationships... patience to wait when things don't go according to our timetable... handling one thing at time as opposed to multi-tasking,  quiet to hear God's still small voice...  Sounds like the kind of living we were created for.

Creating margins in our lives requires us to live out our lives with intentionality. We must first know what our priorities are and then cull those things which don't reflect them.  Yes, it takes some work... but the benefits are worth it.   We've all heard it said before that for everything we say "yes" to, we must say "no" to something else.  Living with margins is counter-cultural to our "fast-paced", "on the go", "doing more", "getting more" lives.  I believe it is how we were really created to live.

I'm learning to recognize the need for margins and the gift those margins are in my life.  They help me see little joys along the way - things I miss without them.  And, they help me to focus on what is really important and to be content.  So, when you ask me how I am doing... my hope is that my answer will no longer be "busy because I will be living with margins!

Praying you have many blessings and much joy!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Money-Stretching Monday - EBooks

For all of you with e-readers or tablets with e-readers apps,  Bookbub.com is a great place to get free or low price e-books.  You can sign up for for free email notifications  and each day you will receice an email with your deals for the day.   You are not obligated to buy any books, and you can pick your preference for what types of books you are interested in.

Now, that is money-stretching!

Praying you have many blessings and much joy!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Faith-Filled Friday - Apart From Me, You Can Do Nothing

Happy Friday... hope you are well and have good plans with your families this weekend.  Here is what is on my heart today...

“I am the vine; you are the branches. 
If you remain in me and I in you, 
you will bear much fruit; 
apart from me you can do nothing."
John 15:5

This plant was a gift from my youngest for Mother's Day two years ago.  The vine is so life-giving;  it is one of the first plants I have gotten to thrive.  The leaves continually grow bright and green.  

This leaf came off the vine today.  It still has some great but it is dead.  It will no longer remain green and flourish.  Soon, it will lose it color and vitality and it will wither.  Slowly, it will dry out and turn brown.  Dead... even though it looks alive right now.

That is what Jesus says to us.  When we remain in Him, He will remain in us and we will bear much fruit.   Apart from Him, we can do nothing.  Have you tried doing things on your own?  I know I have.  Sometimes, I get running ahead of Jesus.  I try to do things my way, on my own.  Usually, those things fail.  Or, they go well for a while and then, I crash or things fall apart.  On my own, I cannot bear fruit.  I am not life-giving.  I stumble and fall.  Oh, if only I didn't have to learn this lesson over and over again.

Here is the amazing thing... when I abide in Him; Jesus says He will abide in me.  Not only that but I will be fruitful.   Things won't always go my way when I am abiding in Him; but I will be sustained by Him no matter what.  One of the synonyms for "abide" is "dwell".  I love that word.  To me, "to dwell" is to be safe, alive, and nurtured.   And, this promise is for both you and me.

I am sure this side of Heaven, there will still be times I run ahead.   But, more and more, I am learning to dwell.

Praying you have many blessings and much joy!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Think About It Thursday - Words of Wisdom

Sharing some words of wisdom from Mother Teresa today...

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. 
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. 
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

This is how I want to live my life!  Hope you do too!

Praying you have many blessings and much joy!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What I Wore Wednesday and a Proverb to Clothe You In

Linking up with Lindsey at The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday.  Ladies, I challenge you to take a few minutes to pick out your outfits to look nice for yourself and your family.  It does make you feel different - I guarantee.  I am risking feeling a little silly posting pics of my outfits each week to encourage you to try this challenge:)

Of course, true beauty comes from deep within, so here is some wisdom from Proverbs:

My child,listen to what I say, and treasure my commands.

Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.
Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.
Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.
Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord

 and you will gain knowledge of God.  For the Lord grants wisdom!
Proverbs 2:1-6

The weather was cold in the mornings and warmer the afternoons on vacation and I brought a really small bag... all mix and match stuff.  I was so surprised how many outfits I got out of the few things I brought... wish I had taken more pics to show the options from a few pieces

I got this chevron top at Target last year on clearance for super cheap... It fits well, has beautiful colors and I can also pull it over leggings

I wore this sweater a few times while away... it goes with so much

Finally we are having some really nice weather and I pulled this shirt out of my spring clothes bin...
 I love the color and material of it 

I hope you know what a precious daughter of Christ you are and you will take a few minutes to get ready each day!

Praying you have many blessings and much joy!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tortoise Tuesday - Taking a break refreshes you!

Ah, it is good to be back after a few days away with my family!   In my effort to get so much done, I sometimes forget to step back, rest, and be refreshed.  Before I left for vacation, I was depleted.  Taking a step back was the cure for that.

I went up to Swanzey Lake in NH with my family and lost track of time.  It was wonderful!  I didn't bring a watch and our days were full of rest, reading, exploring, and family fun.   We had no t.v. and I have to say, I did not miss it at all.

It's hard to be stressed when this is your view each day...

and this is where you take your daily walks...

I took the time to notice little wonders of beauty around me...

I sat and just enjoyed God's beauty...

there was time to build a fairy house with my youngest while we explored the woods and found a cool creek one day...

I even blew bubbles on the beach... what a simple delight from childhood - why do we forget to play when we grow up?....

I got to spend a lot of time with my blessings...

Most importantly, I cast aside the noises of my everyday life and was able to hear God's small still voice in my heart.

So, on this Tortoise Tuesday,  I encourage you to take breaks along the way.  It doesn't have to be a few days away but can be pockets throughout your days and weeks.  Breathe.  Read.  Pray.  Listen.  Hear.  See.

Praying you have many blessings and much joy!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Money- Stretching Monday - Target Dollar Spot

Hey All!  I am back from a week with my family... more about that tomorrow.
Wanted to share with you one of my favorite places to shop - the Target Dollar Spot.  They have all kind of neat goodies from $1-$3.  The section changes each season and has some great things for your home and also for gifts.

I recently needed some things for my office area.  Stopped at the dollar spot and here is what I picked up:

Four bucks later, I had some cute and functional things for my office.  They are well made and I love the turquoise color of the plastic envelopes!  And, the envelopes come with labels for each of the sections.   I am also loving the charcoal gray chevron pencil cup.   Now, my office is a little prettier and organized!

Praying you have many blessings and much joy!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Faith-Filled Friday - Weary and Burdened

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.   For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines weary as: exhausted in strength, endurance, vigor,  or freshness and burden(ed) as:  bearing a load.  These definitions describe how I am feeling lately.  Some days are that way.  Do you ever feel This way?  I think we all do at times.  

Feeling depleted.   This is actual a good place to be.  Sounds crazy right?  But it is.

Jesus came and lived among us as a man.  He knew what is was like to  feel the need to break away from daily work (he was a carpenter after all).  On top of that He was the Messiah.  He came to love and free us.  He also knew that there were times he needed to get away from the crowds and go to a quiet place and pray.  He also took time to relax and celebrate with friends like Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.  That is why these verses from Matthew soothe my soul.  Jesus knows me fully well as His child and He knows my limitations.  And, the promises He gives me in these verses full me hope.  

I need to come to Him ... to be refreshed, to be renewed.   He knows what I need even when I don't.  The best part is that these promises are true for me... and for you.

So, I am taking Him up on His offer.  I am coming to Him and taking a week off.  This week I am stepping back and finding rest.  No work, no blogging, and maybe even no screen time for a good chunk of it.  More time with my husband and children, more fresh air, more play, and more time with Jesus.   I am feeling more relaxed knowing this.  

I know I will come back rested deep in my soul; He promises.  

If you are feeling weary and burdened, come to the Only One who can give you the rest you need.

Praying you have many blessings and much joy!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Think About It Thursday - None of us Have it all Together!

Lest you think from the pretty pictures and words on my blog that I have it all together, I am posting pics of my house today. This week I am extra busy with parent teacher conferences and a Science Fair at my school on Friday.  My house is a bit of a disaster.  Don't believe me... take a peek for yourself...

It drives me crazy!  But this is how things go sometimes.  And you know what?  None of us have all together.  It is all a facade.  I love my house nice, neat, and orderly - in my fantasy life.  The fact of the matter is, I have a husband, three kids, a dog, a cat, a job, and other things going on.  Some weeks my house is in better shape than others; this week with so much going on, the house got put to the bottom of the list.  

I hope you take heart to know that you are not alone.  None of us have it all together.  I don't care how pretty other people's lives look to you, as the saying goes "the grass is always greener".  And, we don't live in a magazine shoot.  Go a little easier on yourself, take things one day at a time, and if you fall, get back up and try again.

I am now off to school.  The house and mess will still be here when I get home.  And, I will tackle it over the next few days.  My family and the people in my life know I love them and that is what is most important.   I am giving myself grace ... hope you give grace to yourself as well!

Praying you have many blessings and much joy!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What I Wore Wednesday and a Proverb to Clothe Yourself in

Linking up with The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday

Ladies, I want to encourage you to take a couple of minutes to put yourself together each day.  You are a child of God and so loved.  True beauty comes from the inside, but what we wear does affect how we feel.  It doesn't have to cost a lot... just take some time to put on something that makes you feel special.

Here are a few outfits from the week... most of my clothes are thrifted or gotten a super low prices.


I love this dress!  I haven't bought clothes in a long time... but I stopped in Forever 21 last week and came out with this dress.  It was under $15 and came with the belt.  I love it because it is so versitile and comfy too.  I wore it a second time this week to church with tights but no sweater!

this is just a simple black tee with a beige lighweight cardi 
paired with a statement necklace - I can wear it with jeans or a skirt

This is a super casual outfit for doing a ton of work around the house... I made the initial necklace (it has the first initials for each of my kiddos).
I like how it makes even a super casual outfit put together.  
note:  the picture doesn't show the initials as clear as they are on the necklace

Hope you are inspired to take a chance and put some outfits together!

And, here is a Proverb to cloth your soul in: 

 "For the Lord gives wisdom; 
 from His mouth come knowledge and understanding"
Proverbs 2:6

Praying you have many blessings and much joy!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tortoise Tuesday - Priorities

As a woman, I often feel deluged with requests and things to do - and not enough to time to do them all. Many of those things seem good...noble even.  But if I am not intentional about my priorities, I am missing out on what is most important for the sake of "good things".

This is what I want my priorities to be (in order of importance):

~ God first, always
~ my husband and our marriage
~ my children and raising them as God wants me to
~ my home and making it a welcoming place of love and safety
~ my work - teaching children is my passion whether at school or youth group
~ this blog
~ creative outlets

This, however, doesn't always happen due to so many variables.  If I am not intentional, life takes hold and I am soon running and putting out fires... just trying to keep my head above water.  Every time I say "yes" to one thing, I say "no" to another. The older I get, the more I am learning this lesson.  My stress level is one pretty reliable indicator if I am keeping my priorities in proper order or if I am neglecting one area in favor of another.  When I am keeping my priorities in their rightful spot, I have peace.  Yes, there may be stress but there is also peace.  When my priorities are out of order, high stress and a lack of peace ensues.

The last two weeks, my priorities have been in a jumble.  So, today I am taking a breath and reflecting on my priorities and commitments.  This verse is helping me.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness,
 and all these things will be given to you as well. 
Matthew 6:33

What are your priorities?  How to you keep them in order in your life?  I would love to hear from you.  You can leave comments right in the comment section at the end of this post.

Praying you have many blessings and much joy!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Do Not Be Anxious - Faith-filled Friday (a day late)

"Do not be anxious about anything,
 but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
 present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
 will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7
Yesterday was a stressful day... by the end of the day, I was worn out... depleted. weary.  A couple of situations weighed heavily on my mind.  Hard situations involving people I love.  Situations, I could do nothing about.. I struggled, I cried, I prayed... but still there it sat heavy on my shoulders and there was nothing I could do to help. I prayed about these situations - I did.   But, I didn't let go of them completely and hand them over to the One who could do something about them.  See, I don't want to see people I love suffer.  The mother in me wants to help, nurture, fix.  While, those traits may seem admirable, really they are not if not first surrendered to Jesus.  That is why I had no peace.  I was anxious and stressed.  I was trying to do things on my own strength.  Do you ever do that? 
In Philippians, we are told to not be anxious but rather pray, request, ,and give thanks to the Lord.  In doing this, we surrender control of what hold to so dearly and place it in the hands of Jesus - where it should be anyway.  Our emotions give us good clues that tell us if we are surrendering situations to Him or clinging too tightly.  This is not to say that once we pray and surrender things that we will no longer feel stress.  Stress is a normal feeling.  It does however mean, that once we truly leave things in Jesus' hands - we will feel that peace.  It is supernatural this peace that "transcends" understanding.  So today, I am doing just that knowing and trusting Jesus's hands are the best place to be.

Praying you have many blessings and much joy!


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Think About It Thursday - Stop the Comparisons

Good Morning!

Today I want to share what is on my heart about this blog

This is what I want for this blog

I want it to be a place...

to encourage
~ to inspire
~ to spark creativity
~ to encourage
~ to share joys and sorrows
~ to wrestle through hard things
~ to build faith
~ to instill in each of us how precious we are to Jesus
~ to try
~ to love
~ to bloom

What I don't want for this blog

~ to judge
~ to compare
~ to discourage
~ to be unkind
~ to belittle
~ to set up unrealistic expectations for any of us

I feel that burning in my heart is the need to say:  we need to stop comparing ourselves to others.   I am talking about that comparison game a lot of us play... a game that doesn't build us up, but rather breaks us down.  I play it myself all too often.  Here are some of the things that run through my mind when I compare myself to others: "She is so talented... my talents don't measure up", "She is so creative and I am not", "How does she get it all done... and look beautiful while doing that", "They are so ____________ (fill in the blank)... and I am not.", "I should _________________  (fill in the blank).  I know I am not alone in this.

We need to stop the comparisons!  Life is both joyful and sorrowful.  Some days are downright hard... crushing.  We need to celebrate our gifts and the gifts of others.  The game of comparison doesn't do that.  In fact, it does the exact opposite. This game blocks us from seeing our own gift.  It also hides the struggles in others.  I am hear to tell you something I am sure of... we all have gifts and we all have weaknesses.  The comparison game doesn't tell us that.   The truth is, we all have issues.  None of us have it all together. 

This is not to say that we cannot look to others and see things in them that inspire us to grow and change.  We can all learn from each other.  We are unique,  precious, and loved.   We all have something to offer.  And, we will only bloom when we are ourselves - not trying to be someone else.

“Today you are You, that is truer than true.
There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” 
 Dr. Suess

Praying you have many blessings and much joy!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What I Wore Wednesday - And a Proverb to Clothe Yourself In

I am linking up with Lindsey from The Pleated Poppy  for What I Wore Wednesday.  Taking a few minutes each day to put outfits together has made such a difference for me.  It really does makes me feel good.   And, it also makes me try new combinations.  I didn't realize how far my wardrobe could go just by switching up accessories and the pieces I pair together.  I am challenging you to do this too... I bet you will have a little extra spring in your step.

And, here is a Proverb to clothe yourself in...  good for us and for our children

Hear, my child, your father’s instruction,
    and do not reject your mother’s teaching;

for they are a fair garland for your head,
    and pendants for your neck.

Proverbs 1:8-9

Here are some outfits I wore this week:

love these flats...
 I got them at Target last year and am glad the weather is warming up so I can wear them again

my youngest photo bombed this pic:)
love this jacket... got it on clearance at Forever 21... they have some great clothing!

 I got this sweater on sale at Old Navy in the Fall and wear it often... it goes with so much!  Love the sequins tank underneath that I got for my birthday in the Fall (Old Navy)
I made the skirt just in time for Easter

Can't help but wear Spring colors now:)

This is my youngest, Kim
She made this dress herself - She amazes me:)

Each morning (or night before if mornings are rushed for you), take a few minutes to pick out something special to wear.  You are worth it!

Praying you have many blessings and much joy!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tortoise Tuesday - Reverse To Do List (and a project update)

How often do we all look at our to do list with things left undone only to feel discouraged.  I know I do it far too often.  I am a list maker, an organizer, a label crazy girl.  These parts of me serve me well and I get great enjoyment from orderliness.  But, these things can also weigh me down... entangling me with unrealistic expectations.  I often do not see all I have accomplished,  but rather all I haven't.

In light of my hope to be more tortoise-like and less hare-like, I am coming up with ways to help me change my perspective.  One way I have found to adjust my focus is by reflecting and using what I call "a reverse to do list".  In those moments when I am most overwhelmed and frustrated by things left undone, reflecting helps me to see things differently.  I see what I have done and where I have spent my time

Here's the difference:

My To Do List for This Past Weekend

~ finish painting trim and wainscoting in my kitchen
~ exercise twice
~ write three drafts of blog posts
~clean house
~sew skirts for Easter
~ cook
~ clean out my fridge
~ clean the house
~ use the china for Easter dinner
~ bead a bracelet
~ set up the patio
~ buy Easter egg decorating kit

What I Actually Did:

~ finished shopping for my son's birthday presents

~ sewed two skirts

~ laundry

~ cooked Easter dinner

~ worshipped on Easter

~ watched a movie with my family 

~ decorated Easter eggs (with only green and orange because I never did get the kit)

~ spent time talking with my family

~ took pictures

~ made memories

~ ate Easter candy

~ walked twice (once at a beautiful bike path I have never been to before)

(if you look closely at the graffiti on this building, it says Jesus)

~ sat around the fire pit, roasted marshmallows, and made s'smores.

~ prayed
~ read a good book

My house didn't get completely cleaned.  The trim and painting are still not complete.  We didn't use china for our Easter dinner.  My bracelet needs to be restrung.  My fridge needs to be cleaned.  I have dust bunnies.

We sat around the fire pit making s'mores while some of the patio furniture remained in the shed.
We had a delicious dinner that reminded me of Easters past at my Polish grandmother's house - no china needed.  We laughed as we decorated Easter eggs.  We cuddled while watching The Wizard of Oz.  We enjoyed a beautiful afternoon walking at the bike path.  We worshipped Our Risen Lord. 
While I will never completely let go of my to do lists,  reflecting on how I spend my days sure lets me see what is really important... experiences and relationships that are worth oh so much more than checking off items on my to do list. 
So, take a moment and instead of being dismayed by all of the things left on your to do list; choose to see where you are really spending your time!
Project Update:   By the way, I started painting my trim and wainscoting in the kitchen 2 weeks ago... as of this morning, I am more than half done.  Not as far along as I would like but it is progress!
Praying you have many blessings and much joy!