Love the One You’re With…

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Last weekend, my family and I ate at a Mexican restaurant in our small town. After being seated and placing our order, I immediately took out my phone to show my husband and kids an item I was interested in purchasing on EBay. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get reception. I became pretty frustrated, as I was eager to get their opinion and ultimately make the purchase. At that point, my eyeballs searched to inquire of some sort of Wi-Fi code or alternative, when I saw the sign that read “NO WIFI. Pretend it’s 1995 and talk to each other!”

WOW!!! REALLY???? At first, I admit, I was slightly annoyed by their attempt to “be the boss of me!!!” (Arms crossed, foot tapping… lol) BUUUUUTTTTT, I became immediately convicted at just how quickly I wanted to engage in online activity. It was easy to pridefully excuse my behavior, I mean, after all, I WAS communicating and sharing my search with all of them, RIGHT??? NOPE! Not right!

We are all guilty of this. We just need to finish this one little thing, look up a quick “this” or respond to a fast “that”. “I am working all day long, a little scroll on Facebook, or Instagram shouldn’t be a big deal…” We start off saying that, but that little “this” turns into searching while at the red light, while waiting in line at the grocery store, while in traffic, while lying in bed with our spouse, while sitting at our kids’ practices, and then ultimately, while at home during family time. I’ve even seen people “scrolling” during church!!!! YIKES!!!! 😨😨😨

Perhaps we need to implement the message from the restaurant sign more often. Our need to grab the phones, tablets and other devices is getting out of control. It is spilling onto our kids and even they can’t seem to temper their desire to be online.

At the end of the day, our desire to “be connected” can’t be to some WIFI system, but to the ones we love, the ones we are with during that time. This is a fairly new problem, so it calls for new rules. I’ve come up with a couple easy ways to combat the need to be online excessively:

  • Love the one you’re with: Whoever you are with during that time, give them your undivided attention. If you are lying in bed with your spouse, picking up your kid from school, riding in the car, watching a movie, cooking dinner, out at a restaurant… PUT THE PHONE AWAY!!!! Look at your people. Converse with them. Let them know you are truly interested in their conversation and the happenings of their life.
  • Have a device container: A good way to put this into practice at home is to have a device container. A friend of mine mentioned this idea and I thought it was FABULOUS! Perhaps everyone can put their device in a container/bowl upon entering the house and no one can get on their device until designated “device time.” During that time, you can all sit together and delve into the world-wide mess, I mean, web 😘 for 30 minutes (or whatever time works best for you).
  • TURN IT OFF: At bedtime, all devices are turned off or silenced. I wonder how many hours of sleep people miss out on during that late-night shopping venture, or that Facebook scroll, etc.… How many intimate encounters are spouses missing out on because one or both parties are more engaged online?

There is an infinite amount of data to search, a ton of seemingly important activity happening, news, shopping and sooooo much more that seem to call our name each day, all day. What a blessing it is to be able to access these things at the touch of a button. However, it cannot be at the expense of the precious moments we sacrifice with our loved ones. Though it is important to stay connected to all the people and affairs of the day, it’s most important to let the ones we are with know they are our top priority. At the end of the day, they are what matter most! Pretend it’s 1995… 😘😘😘

YOU MAKE ME SICK!!!!

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Last week our district had to close school because there were too many kids absent due to various illness such as the flu, strep throat, sinus infections and the like. In all my days, I have never seen this happen, yet recently this was the case in several parts of the country. It was sad to think so many children were at home feeling miserable and fighting for their health. Regardless of their age, most kids are pretty much helpless in this situation because they are unable to make the informed decisions necessary to maintaining their health.  However, we, as their parents can play a more proactive role in keeping them well. I know, I know… we are all super busy, we are on tight budgets, and viruses are highly contagious…we are ALL susceptible. Right? I TOTALLY get it. However, it IS possible for our kids to be in such great health that they are more immune to various illnesses and don’t get sick. Now, this may be difficult to do if our cupboards are filled with Oreos, our menus consist of fried chicken wings from KFC and our schedules are booked to the max, but perhaps we can step up our game on ways to build up a better immunity for them by making some minor adjustments.  Here are 5 ways to help keep our kids virus-free.

  1. Get adequate rest. Kids need to sleep. Though it seems like school is a light-weight job that requires minimal effort, it is only a small portion of their day. Many kids participate in extra-curricular activities, work, sports, church, chores and other things that keep them busy most parts of their day. They need to rest their bodies and minds so they can perform at their highest level. They are still growing and developing and need at least 8 hours to restore, rejuvenate, repair and develop. You will find once they are rested they will be more attentive, can function at a greater capacity and will resist illness. My kids are 14 and 15 and STILL go to bed at 9:00pm! 😨😨😨 (TV’s off, lights out, computers, video games and phones powered down!!!) ☺☺
  1. Eat nutritional meals: I get it, we are on the go, go, go… cooking???? “Ain’t nobody got time for that!!!” lol! 😬😬 However, the purpose of food is not to fill our bellies, but to nourish our bodies. Our children need nutrients for their mind and body to function. It is imperative they get at least 5/6 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Start them as early as possible to develop an appetite for healthy options. That will be impossible if tomatoes are in competition with Cheetos. Remember, YOU buy the groceries. They can only eat what you buy. Of course, they can enjoy snacks, desserts and fast food periodically, but if it has become a regular part of their eating plan, their bodies are not getting the nutrients necessary to fight off illness, let alone perform the tasks they need to do each day.
  1. Get that body moving: This can be a challenge I know, as many of our kids are strapped to some sort of device that only requires movement of the fingers, however, we must help keep them active. At least 3 times per week, they should get that heart rate up and get that blood pumping. Consider options such as walking the dog each day, going to the rec center a couple times a week, getting into a local sports team, gardening, or regular household chores. Whatever the case, when that blood is circulating through the body, it can adequately combat various symptoms.
  1. Take a daily vitamin: It can be tough to get in all the necessary vitamins, nutrients and minerals each day through food alone. However, while their brains, bones and muscles are developing, it is important they not lack the essentials. Taking a good (preferably whole food) 1 a day multivitamin, will help pick up where their diet leaves off.
  1. Joyful living: Many of our children are plagued with a stressful existence.  This can greatly impair their defense against illness. They are juggling several tasks before, during and after school and are already starting a life of busyness and stress. We must help them add balance to their daily regimen so they can enjoy their days to the fullest. Each day should somehow include elements of fun, peace, and joy. Their home environment should be a place of safety. Not one where they are overwhelmed with our stresses (bills, money, car trouble, divorce, etc..) each night. When they can live in a place that is consistently peaceful, they can rest knowing they are safe and can enjoy themselves.

I know this is not easy. However, as adults, we can make informed decisions. We are charged with the duty of training our children and helping them develop habits they will take into adulthood. I realize our lives are difficult as well, however, children are innocent bystanders of the life we serve them. Show them early how to defend against illness so they can live long, peaceable, happy, healthy lives. They have a whole world to go impact. No time for being sick! ☺☺☺

QUIT QUITTING…

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My husband and I took our kids to the track at the high school this weekend to help get my son in shape for track season. After a great warm up and stretch, we challenged them to a timed race in the 100-meter dash. They started on the appropriate lines, took off at the command, and seemed to be pumped for what appeared to be a fair competition. Half way through the race, my daughter took the clear lead, at which my son slowed down and discontinued his attempt at winning. I stood at the finish line appalled. Though I was happy my daughter got the win, I was quick to encourage my son to finish the race. What was he thinking???? Sure, it LOOKED as if he would not be victorious in this race, but quitting insured that outcome.

Later I considered how many tasks we are quick to start, yet perform in a similar manner. We get distracted, see the outcome as overwhelming, too much to do, or impossible and quit before we experience the victory of completion.

I want to encourage you to finish your course strong. Stay focused. Though 100 meters can appear intimidating, there is victory in crossing that finish line. Every single small step toward that goal is a step closer to achievement. It’s not about “who gets there first,” or if we get there RIGHT NOW… but that we made it, and more importantly, that we didn’t give up. Know that with God, all things are possible. That He can provide the tail wind needed to lessen the load. Trust in His strength and finish strong!!! You are on the winning team!!! YOU GOT THIS!!!!

Quit Quitting on:

  • that healthy eating plan you started this year
  • the book you began and can’t seem to finish
  • That loved one who won’t seem to do “right”
  • your goals to stop smoking
  • The exercise routine you planned
  • Getting out of debt
  • Drinking more water
  • that degree you started but keep putting off
  • Going to bed earlier
  • Your marriage
  • Keeping up with your blog!!!! ☺☺😜😜😨😨😨😆😆
  • not eating at fast food restaurants
  • Controlling your temper
  • That tough project at work
  • Getting up earlier
  • Being on time

Perhaps your goal is not listed above, but you know what it is. See it through. Finish your race strong. That finish line is closer than you think and there is victory waiting on the other side!

WordPress is SO Much Better Than Facebook Right Now…

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Ok. Many of you can agree that social media has gotten RIDICULOUS with all the political rants, conspiracy theories, social injustices and just divisive, opinionated vent sessions that actually resemble elements of virtual bullying. It is sad to see some of your “friends” (who are understandably frustrated) behave in ways that are foreign to their regular demeanor.  While I wait for the temporary adult temper tantrums to settle, I have recently taken a bit of a break from what was otherwise a great spot to reflect and share experiences, celebrations, pictures and great ideas. In the meantime, I have greatly enjoyed scrolling through my WordPress feed to read various blog posts. I have to admit, I find myself enthralled with the thoughtful, insight I am finding through various blogs. There are beautiful reflections of life experiences, helpful tips, recipes, DIY’s, poems, short stories and points of wisdom and motivation; actual depth. As a former English teacher, I am already accustomed to reading various forms of literature, so I feel right at home. If you find yourself needing a bit of a breather from your typical scroll through FB, Instagram or the like, scroll through your WordPress feed and check out all the goodies that lie in wait of great reflection. Don’t just “like” it. Give some feedback. Just as you love for others to stop by your page and reflect, they love for you to do the same. In the meantime, if you are looking for someone to read your awesome post, attach a link in the comment section. I will be sure to take some time to read and reflect!!! Blessings to you! #sharingthelove

TOTALLY RADICAL DUDE!!!

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I remember when selling our home a couple years ago, our agent did a walkthrough of the property.  She was very impressed with all the amenities the house offered, but she was quick to warn that buyers preferred a “neutral” décor. “It would appeal to the majority of potential buyers and allow them to picture themselves as owners,” She explained. I totally understood that philosophy, and though I had heard it before and recognize it as a staple thought for home buying, it didn’t fit me. In fact, I had just spent the last few years prior customizing that home to fit my vision, and it was FAR from neutral. Lol. I had the walls painted charcoal, hung a wall size world map mural on my son’s bedroom wall, a stairway with velvet damask wall paper, a yellow shag rug in the dining room, a bold red front door and a baby grand piano I just painted a distressed yellow!!!! NUETRAL YOU SAY????? (See pics below)

Now though I definitely wanted to sell my home, I was NOT about to change my style. I figured it would be my gift to the buyer. My stamp.

I realized that the world is JUST like what this realtor was asking me to be. The world will box you in. Require you to believe, act, respond and decide based on a popular idea. A majority rule. A neutral belief… Follow the trend. Color inside lines. However, you were born with a purpose. You were called to do something OUTSTANDING in this life. You were created as an individual. You were fearfully and wonderfully made to make impact in this this world. Though it can be uncomfortable at times, as believers, we will have to make very radical decisions that will be very “unneutral.”

What I love about God, is that when you stand firm on His word and be a bold believer, you will always come out victorious. My husband and I sold that home. We had record breaking numbers of interest. The blessed family that ended up buying the home, paid a large amount over the asking price and purchased every bit of furniture and décor that was in the house… including the yellow baby grand piano!!!

Though life can be much more challenging than velvet wall paper, let it be a reminder that you are called to be a BOLD believer. When your decisions don’t seem to line up with a “neutral palate,” remember that you and God are the ultimate majority. There is a great reward for following His word. And together you can blaze uncommon trails to victory!!! SHINE ON!!! Paint your walls black, your pianos yellow and your doors red!!! 😘😘😘

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A Family that Prays Together…

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We have used our commute to school every day since the kids were little (2&4) for family prayer. We call my husband on speaker phone and he, my son, daughter and I thank God for His many blessings, and pray for many people and things. Over the course of 11+ years we have witnessed God answering those prayers time and time again! It is most touching on days like today when my daughter led prayer and asked for healing for a classmate of hers who has been absent because of a surgery. That girl may never know it, but 4 prayer warriors are praying for her, like we have prayed and believed for so many.

As we go about our day, let us not forget the power of prayer. Let your petitions be made known to God. He hears and answers prayers. Teach your kids this at an early age. Let them witness its’ power, that they may live a lifestyle and lifetime of prayer. Happy Friday y’all!! BE BLESSED!!!

On Turning 40… A Few Truths… And an Awesome Birthday Vacation!!!!

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SO… Um…. When I was a teenager, I think I thought 40 was like “OLD.” And though my husband crossed the burning sands of 40 about 4 years ago, I have prided myself on still being in my 30’s… at least until about a month ago… 😨😨😨

So now I am 40. I’m 40. And things are indeed a bit different. Surely, I have the stubborn strands of grey that tend to crown (the most obvious) parts of my face, and the occasional chin hair… (Yikes!!) I have somehow become a natural fan of the skirt/shorts bathing suits, reading books opposed to TV, long walks, theatre, tea vs. coffee; occasional wearing of Spanx, kale smoothies for breakfast, old school music, flats over heels (and other logical beauty regimes vs. the more time consuming/expensive alternatives). It is amazing the insight and wisdom that comes over time.

But I think there are a few ways my perspective has changed as well. And these are the changes I am super excited about:

  1. I have a desire to be more and more like Christ. Who cares what the rest of the world thinks about the decisions I make, or the marks of achievement I attain. At the end of the day, I want God to be pleased. And I am committed to that goal daily.
  2. My husband is my best friend. Though times are not always perfect, he has been by my side for 20+ years. We have built something so great together and our relationship is top priority to me.
  3. I have the great privilege and responsibility of raising my children. This time is so short yet so monumental. I am committed to not only teaching and telling them of the ways of God, but modeling and surrounding them with other examples of His goodness. It has never been the popular route, but I am SO ok with that.
  4. I do not govern my decisions or perspective by the status quo, what everyone else is doing, or what appears to be the majority vote. In most cases, the route the rest of the world is taking, I end up heading the 180 degree opposite direction and I love the fruit it is producing.
  5. Our bodies were built to last. If we take care of them, they will perform. Healthy food choices, full rest, regular physical activity and non-stressful days trump hospital visits, medication and surgeries ANY DAY. I am committed to a healthy lifestyle and I feel good.
  6. Beauty is not defined by a size, number on a scale, great outfit or hair length. We are made in the image of God. The love that fills my heart has permeated to the outside of my physical being. I am more beautiful now than ever and I feel radiant.
  7. And finally, FUN. Life is to be enjoyed!!! I do and will continue to incorporate fun and enjoyment in every single day of my life. No matter how great or small, I will enjoy the moments of this journey on purpose.

My husband knows all these things about me. In order to kick off my 40th birthday with a BANG, he took me on a surprise trip that included all of my favorite people, places and things. Here are pics of the amazing time we had together!!! In the meantime, whether 20, 35, 55, or 100. I pray you regularly take stock of your awesome journey and enjoy every drip drop of it!!!!!

Here are a few pics from the 40th surprise birthday vacation:

(Las Vegas: Lionel Richie Concert at Planet Hollywood, Dinner at Caesars Palace, shopping at Fashion Show Mall, movies to see Fences)

(San Francisco: Rented a Mustang, drove the coast, walked the Golden Gate Bridge, shopping at Westfield Mall, Golden State Warriors Game… Steph Curry live!!!! Food, food and food…AWESOME!!!)

(Dallas: We went to the Cotton Bowl to watch my Alma Mater -Western Michigan University play!!! SO AWESOME!!! Stopped by Magnolia Market in Waco -AWESOME!!!! Met up with family and friends for dinner. Took the kids to see Hidden Figures – AWESOME!!!)

Had the time of my life!!!! I am super blessed!!!

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What’s Wrong With a Lil’ “Rose Colored Glasses” Perspective??? A Practical Journaling Experience.

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I remember back to 1999. I had just graduated from college, got married, bought our first home, started an AWESOME teaching career, and finally had a couple dollars in the bank!!!! I was on cloud 20!!!! Everything seemed to be perfect and I was only 22 years old!!!! Clearly, I was God’s FAVORITE child!!! ☺☺☺ Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, and for no known circumstance, “reality” sank in. I was inundated with 150 essays from my students, I had real live bills to pay, my house needed to be cleaned and repaired and of course my new otherwise “Jesus Jr.” of a husband started acting like a real live human!!!! 😣😣😣

WHAT HAPPENED???? I was DUPED!!! I had been bamboozled!!! I found myself constantly evaluating my circumstances only to be frustrated. Somehow the zeal of newness was overshadowed by the effort necessary to maintain this dream world. I found myself looking for people with whom to share my “grief”. I wanted someone to corroborate that I had sufficient evidence to prove how awful my overall situation was. OF COURSE, if you are seeking someone to sit with you in your stew, you will always find them.😟 Let me remind you, NOTHING, had happened to me. I hadn’t been sick, I didn’t have any real issue; the bills were paid, the cars were working, the house was fine… I was just… I don’t even know!!!! THEN, I came up with an even BETTER idea. Instead of venting my non-issues to my buddies, I would write them down each night. I would think about the things that happened in my day and vent them on paper…release them…get them out of my system for them to never return.  OMG!!! What a RIDICULOUS idea!!! It actually made things even worse. I stewed in my own mess and rolled around in it and smeared it all over myself and I quickly gave life to my very own nighttime drama.

Thankfully, God rescued me from my SUPER HOT MESS and gently told me THIS:  focus on the things that are lovely, that are pure, that are good. Put the magnifying glass on the great things happening in my life, not the storms, the issues, the yucky stuff. (Cue trumpets, strings, timpani’s)🎺🎺🎺 It was like one of the greatest epiphanies of my life!!!! It literally changed EVERYTHING!!!

I went out the next morning and found the most beautiful “notebook” I could find. One that was inviting. Inspiring. And that night, I started a simple list of the great things that happened throughout that day. I can’t tell you how it revolutionized my day. I made mental notes in my head of the awesomeness that surrounded me, and I couldn’t wait to record it in my book each night.

This small adjustment has governed my perspective. I can say that I just bought my 17th book in celebration of my 17th year of writing in my thankful journal each day. I have learned that no matter how tough things get, how challenging days can be, there is ALWAYS, ALWAYS something good, something for which you can give thanks. If you are looking for a great New Year’s resolution, challenge, idea, or way to keep your perspective rosy… consider a thankful journal. There are too many awesome things happening in your journey to capture!!!! 😘

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SWIPER NO SWIPING!!!! A New Year’s Resolution Suggestion…

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Looking for a great resolution for 2017????? What if: you decided that starting 2017 you will live debt free? What if you cut up your credit cards and decided to make all purchases with cash/debit/check only, got out of debt and stayed out???? Sounds difficult I know.

My awesome pastor taught a series at church WAAAAAY back in 1998 about living a life free of debt, maintaining a budget and basing your spending on one salary (after tithes and offering). Since 1998, my husband and I made the decision to tithe and give offerings faithfully, live on his salary alone and to not charge or finance another item ever again. With the exception of a mortgage, (we have a payoff plan for that too!!! Lol!!!) we have maintained those goals without compromise… not for a car, my master’s degree, furniture, vacations, jewelry, clothing… NOTHING. It took a TON of sacrifice, delayed gratification, buying used, and strategic budgeting… But I tell you, we have never missed a beat, never gone without and have gained the true freedom to do exactly what we are called to do.

Many people ask me how I retired at age 37? How we were able to pack up and build a home in the mountains, travel regularly, buy a brand-new car in cash, give generously, etc… It really doesn’t make much natural sense. My husband and I come from low income families. Both of us grew up on welfare. When people see us now, they would never know. I am careful to share our story with others because our success is not based on traditional methods of education, intellect, some great investing scheme. We didn’t collect an inheritance, win a settlement etc…

Simply put, His ways are higher than ours. We’re not perfect, and never claim to be. But He is… When we were led to live debt-free, we simply obeyed. And God simply provided. I dare you to trust Him with your finances… With EVERYTHING!!!! You will soar to places beyond your dreams!!! I hope this blesses someone today… Happy New Year!!!! 🙂