I have been instagramming some delicious meals lately that are homemade!! I mean they are beautiful, yummy, fresh and organic! What? Is this to tell you how amazing I am. Of course not, this is to tell you how I cheat!
You see I am a working girl, which I love. We are an extremely busy family; especially during football season. We are usually only home 2 to 3 nights a week. Family dinners are very important to me! Like, one of my most treasured things. So, I want to capitalize on those nights and provide my family with a Martha Stewart meets Paula Deen meets Racheal Ray wonderful family experience. Now, let me be clear.. this girl can cook. I mean, I really can. I even had a local cooking show once. But, what this girl can not seem to get it together and do anymore is plan what to have, make a list, grocery shop and still feel all Paula Deeny. So, I do what some of you may call cheating.
I call it making a way, admitting I can’t do it all, being ok with finding ways to make my priorities happen that are a little out of the box. First, let me be clear, this is not an advertisement, this is just something I love. There are lot of companies that do this, this just happens to be my current favorite.
I order meal kits from Plated.com. WHAT???? I can feel the glare at the computer and the judgment right now. Yes, it costs a little more money than the grocery store. But, it saves me time, brain power, energy, gas money and waste!! Seriously, the no waste thing is amazing. You get just the ingredients you need so you don’t have to clean out your fridge like hardly ever. No cartons of chicken stock that smells and has chunks. No produce that stinks and gets the bottom of your fridge drawer sticky nasty. What a WIN!!! So for me, even though you may see it as cheating; I see it as winning!! I still have to prep and cook it, which I enjoy so it is another WIN! The meals come with the handy dandy giant card that you see in the picture. So, I don’t really even have to think. I turn on some music and just start doing what the card tells me!!
I have figured out a way to get what I want done and not be so stressed. Plus some of this stuff is stuff I would have never thought of cooking but it is so good!! Another WIN.
Sometimes, we need help. Help comes in all different ways. Sometimes, we have to admit that we can’t always have and do all of the things we want. We have limitations. We just have to learn to accept the help that is out there. Let your husband help fold the towels if he offers, even if you know it want be done the way you like it. Let your in laws help watch the kids if they offer, all of the candy they give them won’t kill them. Whatever you need help with, don’t be afraid to get it in order to accomplish the things that are priorities for you in this season of your life.
And if you want to take a look at Plated.com, I won’t tell that you cheated!
I try to actually do things, not just talk about doing things but I probably talk more than I actually do. We talk about people needing help but do we actually find a way to meet their needs? You know the saying, “A little less talk and a lot more action”, ok.. it is a song and it is probably not about helping people; but you get the point.
I have done much better in my journey lately to look for ways to bless people, however, if I am not careful, this generosity pursuit can become just another thing I check off of my list. It is about so much more than just doing something for someone. It seems that whatever Jesus challenges us to do, there is always some type of balance. You can’t have grace without faith, you can’t have true freedom without boundaries, you can’t have excellence without failure and you can’t have action without love.
You have to love people with your attitude, not just your actions. Our attitude speaks so much louder than our words. Yes, love needs action, but it also needs attitude. Who’d of thought I would be telling you to have more attitude?
Last week I had been shopping to help a local organization with a family in need and was headed to drop it off at the church. I had a list of things to get done and was in my mode of “get it done.” I imagine myself to be like Mary Poppins when I am in this mode, but I am fearful it comes across more like the boss lady in “The Devil Wears Prada”. Anyway, I called my husband and asked him if he wanted to do lunch because I was going to be dropping by the office.
When I got there I was thinking about having to unload all of the gifts and how much time it was going to take. My husband pops out of his office and greets me with a hug and an enthusiastic, “ I am so glad you stopped by for lunch, this was unexpected and made my day.”
Now, this response made me stop in my tracks because there have been times when I showed up at his office for lunch and his attitude was somewhat less than enthusiastic. Now, I know it wasn’t personal, but in the moment that he greeted me with this enthusiastic attitude, I realized it made all of the difference in the world! Instead of feeling like a possible inconvenience, I felt like the queen of his world!
It made me begin to think; how often do I do a loving action for him without an attitude of love to back it up? When my action is paired with a loving attitude, it creates a true moment of love. I can’t be lazy with my love and just have a great attitude; there has to be action. On the other hand, I can’t be just be a doer without having an attuned attitude of love.
I don’t want to be generous begrudgingly. I don’t want to cook all of this amazing food for Christmas, then shove it at people because I did all of this work and want to be more appreciated. I want the light of Christ’s love to shine through in my actions and attitude. We all need an attitude adjustment from time to time. Watching Christians do something for someone, pretending to be generous while really manipulating or just doing it to make themselves look better, makes me want to hurl hymnals at people! However, there is a hope beyond the Pastor’s wife going to jail for assault by hymnal. We will find that hope when we start looking to Jesus instead of ourselves. He Himself came to serve and He did it with an attitude of love.
Lord, I pray that as I try to serve You by serving others, You help me to do it with an attitude of love.
Thanksgiving is one my favorite holidays!! To me, it is the kick off to the most magical time of the year. I love gathering together, celebrating what we are grateful and eating the most amazing food!
However, for the host Thanksgiving can be an exhausted, frustrating and stressful event! Here are some tips to help you enjoy hosting Thanksgiving!
Plan ahead!! Know your menu. Have a shopping list ready. Plan what bakeware and cookware you are using. Plan what dishes, napkins and silverware you are using. Be sure to have guests RSVP so you will know who all will be there.
Don’t experiment!!! I love Paula Deen Christmas and Thanksgiving magazines, but the Thanksgiving meal is not time to experiment with a recipe that you haven’t tried yet. Stick to what you know works!
Turkey! Order your turkey!! You will need about 3/4 to 1 pound of turkey per person!
Buy some store-bought goodies!! It is perfectly acceptable to buy a few things that are already pre-made. If you don’t want to make a pie, Marie Calendar’s pumpkin pie is amazing!! Some grocery store delis have awesome prepared side dishes. No shame in that game!
Make some dishes in advance! Some things can be prepared and kept in the fridge a few days before baking. Doing some of the dishes ahead of time will save a ton of time.
Don’t make a big deal over appetizers. Set out some bread and cheese and be done. People are there for the main meal, don’t stress over appetizers at Thanksgiving dinner.
ASK FOR HELP! Don’t feel bad about asking people to bring food, drink or even to come early and help out. Taking on the whole burden of Thanksgiving prep is a lot of work. Whatever you do, if someone asks if they can help; say yes! You already know your menu and what you could use more of. People usually don’t mind helping if they just know what you need. Delegate!!!
The night before: Go to bed early!!! This is not the night to stay up late watching Christmas movies. Get plenty of rest so you can wake up ready to rock Thanksgiving.
The day of: Get up early!! You went to bed early, now get up early! Enjoy your coffee and few minutes of peace and then get to it. Time always goes by faster than you think and there is always that person that shows up early!
People over perfection!! Thanksgiving is about being grateful, not being perfect. When inviting people into your home, it is not so you can impress them but so you can make them feel they have a warm and loving place to belong. Don’t stress about things being perfect, enjoy the people who are there.
If you are not hosting; call the host right now and ask what you can do!!! If they have nothing for you to do, show up with a hostess gift! Us southerners never show up empty-handed!
The Holiday season is upon us!! This is truly my favorite time of the year! However, I know that for some people it ends up being the most stressful time of the year. There are presents to buy, meals to plan, families to visit, guest rooms to clean and many more things to accomplish. To stay in the right frame of my mind, I try to start preparing my heart as early as I can. I LOVE the holidays and I want everyone else to love them as much as I do. However, some people are determined to have a miserable time no matter what. Can I get an Amen on that one? I know someone just popped in your head! It is ok, I won’t tell. So, I determined that no matter what, I will allow myself to enjoy the fact that I am one of God’s girls and I am blessed. Out of the overflow of being blessed, I will try my best to be a blessing.
I want my life to represent Thanksgiving. I know that Christ died for me but I want to live in the reality that He is also here with me. I want my life to reflect a life of gratitude to Him by being a blessing to others. It sounds lovely, but it is much harder said than done. You know you are going to have that one in-law (because it is NEVER your family) act in a selfish way, say something condescending or just be ugly. We can’t control that. They may even act that way after you have determined in your heart to be a blessing to them. Try also determining that even if they won’t allow themselves to be blessed by you, you are still gonna be blessed and keep on blessing!!
Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to set a table and invite God to transform the lives of all of those that gather at the table. I can set a table, but I can not force people to eat. I have to remember to keep the heart of a servant, not the mind of a master. I can’t force, control, or change people. I can only love, serve and provide an atmosphere of grace that they can partake of or not.
No matter what happens this year, the Camps will have wonderful Thanksgiving. We will be surrounded by food that will bring us comfort, family that will make us laugh, lights and smells that will touch our soul and the God of the universe amongst us.
You could even start practicing now. Open your heart and home: invite someone to dinner so that you can be blessed and be a blessing.
Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. William Arthur Ward
I entered November with a full and grateful heart. However, a few minutes of scrolling through my social media feed and all of that can be undone. I am determined to keep an attitude of gratitude. I challenge you to do the same!!
Each day in November I am posting something I am grateful for. Not just to do it and not to brag, but to adjust my heart. I want to not only give thanks for the blessings in my life; I want to do it with a grateful heart.
So.. how did I simplify my life? Well.. I am still working on it. It is a project that has already taken about 6 months. It was a journey for sure and something I think I will have to continually work on. Let me start off by saying, most of the simplifying was internal. I had to change the inside of myself before I could change the world around me.
I never had any amazing off of the chart talents. I could do many things decently, but didn’t have any super amazing talents. I was however, very capable and could be trusted to get things DONE! That became my thing.. getting things done. People could count on me, I became the “go to girl”. The more I rushed to do everything and prove how capable I was the more frantic of a life I began to live. My identity became tied to being capable. I didn’t like to admit I couldn’t do something. I prided myself on having too much on my plate. My soul seemed to stay in a constant state of busy. I wanted to impress everyone, including my husband with how much I could do. I was trying to be accepted and loved instead of just being.
Through a process of journaling, praying, studying God’s word, studying about my personality and reading I began to rediscover the person I am at my core. She is much more like the person I was when I was young. This girl likes to sit outside under trees and read, she likes to enjoy coffee with whipped cream on top, she loves the smell of rain, she loves to cook and gather people around a table, she longs for deep connections, she doesn’t have a problem being still, she easily saw herself as a daughter of the King, she was carefree, her trust was in the Lord, critics didn’t bother her, compliments didn’t drive her, and her life ambitions were to be available and connected to those she loved and cared about.
I had drifted a long way from who I was. It just happened naturally over time.
I decided it was time to leave pride, busyness, pushing, trying, striving, and exhaustion all behind. It left me very bare and broken. I had used all of those things to try and hide my flaws and imperfections. I felt vulnerable for the first time in a long time. I had to disconnect a lot, say no a lot and embrace the fact that I had been hiding I was not ok for a long time. I let myself feel, I let myself be broken and fragile. It was in that time that God’s light started shining through this cracked pot. That light begin to heal and restore me in a way that I can only describe as supernatural. It felt like sunshine on my face on a beautiful fall day. All of a sudden everything became more meaningful and enjoyable. I feel like my soul has a new way of living again. I enjoy the simple things again. I don’t have a fear of missing out, I don’t feel I have to prove anything to anyone, I feel a sense of simply being grounded. Being here, where I am.
It is still a process I am in and when I get stressed or uncomfortable, I am tempted to go back to the old way I was living. As this process continued inside, I started simplifying things on the outside.
I cleaned out all of my drawers and my closet. If I wasn’t crazy about it, I got rid of it. If I didn’t love the way it fit, I got rid of it. If I didn’t wear it the last time it was in season, I got rid of it. If it had holes in it, I got rid of it. If it was stringy and worn, I got rid of it. Part of me struggled with thinking I was wasting things. ( I gave it all away) Part of me worried that I may need something I was getting rid of again one day. But, I continued on and now.. my drawers are organized and clean. My closet has tons of room. It is sooooo much easier picking out something to wear. There are less options and I love everything in there.
This made such a difference, I moved on to my bathroom. Half -used makeup and lotion bottles – gone. Old hair products I “might” use again – gone. Less, less, less made my life more, more, more.
I moved from room to room and did this. Our home is now a place where we live, not a storage facility.
I plan my days with LOTS of margin and I don’t feel guilty anymore if everything is done and I have time to read, watch Netflix, have coffee with a friend or whatever else I want to do.
I plan my meals out. I hate not knowing what to cook. So I make myself sit down, plan out my meals and grocery shop. It makes the rest of the week simpler.
I clean out my fridge and pantry every week. It only takes like 5 minutes each time now.
I keep a freezer full of chicken breasts, veggies, Sister Shuberts rolls, Sister Shuberts sausage rolls, and a few other things in case we have guests coming I didn’t plan for; I don’t have to run to the grocery store.
I do a load of laundry every day.
I ridded the house of junk drawers. Junk goes in the trash.
I realize no matter how hard I try, our home will never look perfect. We live in it. So, I learned to also let things go. I choose to “be there” instead. Be there when my kid wants to talk, play basketball, play UNO or watch tv with me. Be there when my husband wants to take a walk or just sit and share our day. I am done trying to protect an image of who I am and I am just being me.
I started learning to do things from scratch. For example; I make French Press coffee and got rid of the Keurig. I am enjoying the process of things so much more than just the end results.
We have a weekly chalkboard calendar in our kitchen, at the bottom there is a magnet board where I keep a shopping list that Eric and Ethan can add to it what they need. I have no idea if they are out of deodorant or tooth paste and this helps me a lot!
I realized I can craft a life that is more free and reflects who God made me to be.
I have learned to play again and not be so serious.
These things may seem simple, but it has all changed my life. I no longer settle for a busy life for the sake of being busy, I want a meaningful soulful life. I am ok with not always being ok. My life is more honest. I have fewer surface connections and more deep meaningful ones. I don’t feel the need to impress anyone anymore, and before I was living for that. I feel more like the girl I use to be.
As the journey continues, I will let you know how it goes. One of the books that helped me the most was “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist. She went through the same thing, on a much larger scale of course. I felt like she was writing exactly what I felt, except she is an extrovert and I am a functioning introvert.
I will leave you with a quote from her book that rocked my soul, “This is actually my life, and it doesn’t matter a bit if it would be lovely for someone else to live. What does matter: does it feel congruent with how God made me and called me?”
Many of us watch the news everyday in horror. We scroll through our social media news feeds with story after story of tragedy, injustice, lies, deception and it is scary. We get angry, we get mad, we post things, we want to do something. Many of us don’t know what to do, sometimes we don’t even know what to say. We decide that all we can do is pray. I think prayer is the most important thing that we can do but there is something more. For some, God may call them to stand up in ways that others can not. But, all of us have a mandate, something we are called to do and that is LOVE.
The Bible tells us to train up a child in the way they should go. As I look around America, I am seeing homes where children are being provided for but not raised. We are hustling chasing down the almighty dollar, fame, popularity, authority and glory. But, in the mean time our homes are suffering. Our most important calling is being forsaken. One thing we all can do is go home and love our families and teach them to love. Whether we realize it or not we are training our children. We are either training them in the ways of God or the ways of this world. They are learning by every move we make. They are also learning from friends, social media, school teachers, coaches, and tv. Do you know what is influencing them? When I love my husband and my son well, I am filling up their soul with the good things of God. They are replenished by my love because my love for them comes from God. It is hard to love others when your own love tank is overdrawn. It should be our goal to at least make sure those in our home are full on our love so they can go out and love others. This is not easy, and I don’t always get it right. But, I know that if we don’t get this right in our homes, our world will never change.
We may feel safe and protected in our homes, but if you think our children do not know what is going on in this world then you have your head in the sand. They are exposed to so much at school and through social media that it would blow your mind! They have to deal with it. Maybe instead of getting consumed about what everyone on Facebook is saying about the shape our world is in, we get around the dinner table and talk to our kids. It doesn’t have to be fancy, make a bologna sandwich and pull up a chair. Have the tough conversations with our kids. Ask them what is really going on in their life! Talk to them about ways things could be done better, talk to them about the way God would want us to handle situations. Teach them to love. Teach them to stand up for the right things. Teach them, train them, raise them.
If we really want harmony and unity, then we should clothe ourselves in love and we should teach our kids to do the same.
I know there are many more things that can be done. This is just the first place we can start.
It is in the moments I mess up. The moments that people attack my family. The moments that my blood pressure soars through the roof. The moments that I see hate and lies typed out onto a screen. The moments people love to try and twist everything I say. The moments I want to sit under a tree like Jonah and wait for God to wipe out my enemies. The moments that the hurt in my heart bubbles up through my throat and out of my mouth. The moments I realize I am not as strong as I thought I was. The moments I let people silence me. The moments I want to hide my light because I am tired of people trying to destroy it. The moments I want to isolate myself because I do not feel safe. The moments I am in a crowded room and feel utterly alone. The moments that I don’t think it is worth it. The moments that bitterness is trying to take root and I am trying to decide if I want to cut it off or let it grow. The moments I just want to give up on humanity. The moments I wish I was cold-hearted instead of tender.
It is also in moments, beautiful moments that the Spirit of the Lord moves in on me like a gentle fall breeze. The moments I calm down. The moments I get a grip on my soul. The moments that I tell the Lord I am weary and He gives me rest. The moments I realize the burdens I am carrying are not the ones He gave me because His are light. In these moments, God supernaturally changes my heart. He steadies my mind and rights my skewed perspective. He enhances the truth of my reality and strips away the lies of the enemy. It is in the moments I realize there is more on me than I can handle because He wants to handle it for me. In these moments I become brave again, not because of my strength or ability but because the Lord of the Universe is letting me cast my cares on Him. In these moments I am glad He made me tender. God is letting me be what He already created me to be. In these moments, the exhaustion is lifted and I am living lightly, freely and courageously again.
Thank you Lord for the beautiful moments. Thank you for knowing my heart and blowing gently across it during the moments I am messing up.
We have had an incredible summer!! When school ended this past spring, I was determined to free my schedule and just enjoy the time that I was going to have with Ethan. He is 13 and I know there are not many more summers left where I will have him at home.
However, summer is almost over!! Two weeks to go and I will have a kid in 8th grade. Even though I love the fun and lazy days of summer, I am looking forward to the routine that the school year brings. Each year I try to do better than the year before with keeping our home and family organized. I have figured out that as the mom and wife, I am able to set my husband and son up for success!
So, here are some things I will be doing… maybe this will help you!
1- The dreaded meal planning: So, I LOVE to cook but I HATE to grocery shop. Well, Wal-Mart,of all places, has solved this for me. They have this new thing where you can order online and go pick it up at the store. You pull into a designated parking spot and they bring the groceries out to you! All the moms with small kids probably just started crying in thanksgiving to God! This is awesome, but it requires me to be more planned out, which is a good thing. So now on Friday or Saturday I sit down with a few of my favorite cookbooks and pinterest to plan my meals for the week. I have come to enjoy it and it feels so good knowing what I will be doing for dinner the whole week. I even write down the meals in my Day Designer planner, which makes me feel even more accomplished! ( I have a slight obsession with planners and office supplies.) We have a chalk board in our hallway when you enter our house from the garage; this is where my husband and son put down anything they notice we are out or just want so those things can be added to the order. BOOM!
2- I am helping my son clean out his room next week. Every drawer will be gone through and everything he can’t or doesn’t wear will be gotten rid of. We will organize the school clothes and make sure he starts the year out better than the last one ended. Side Note: Ethan is 13 and does his own laundry!
3- We will be setting up house rules, homework rules and any other guidelines we will have this year. They will be clearly communicated to our son!
4- We will establish a morning routine. Ethan sets his own alarm and will be responsible for getting up and following the routine. I choose to still fix his breakfast because I enjoy our time in the morning at the breakfast table.
5- Dinnertime at the table will be non-negotiable, except for Wednesday nights. This is the time we will discuss our day and communicate as a family. NO PHONES ALLOWED.
6- For myself, i am trying to figure out what kind of workout or fitness routine to begin that I will actually follow through with. Not having any luck yet!
These are just a few things we are doing to prep for a good school year. What are some things you are doing?? I would love to hear from you!!
(Hebrews 12:1) “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
I have read this scripture a thousand times and heard many messages preached about it. Today, one part of it really hit me and I wanted to share it with you! That one part, “let us strip off every weight that slows us down”, that line really got me! It goes on to say “especially the sin…”. That means that everything weighing us down may not be sin. That means there are probably some things that are not really bad that we need to let go of.
Have you ever met those people that seem to have it all together? Career, family, well taken care of home, they always look on point! These people fascinate me! I love them! Over the years of trying to be one of those people, I have figured one thing out; most of those people know exactly what they want their lives to be about! That means they have had to strip a LOT of things out of their lives. It can be a little difficult deciding what you want your life to be about, but it is extremely difficult to decide what you are willing to let go of so that you can do the things you really care about.
I am so bad about picking up tons of weights! They don’t look like weights when I pick them up. They are pretty, shiny, happy things that I think will bring joy to my life, and a lot of times they do. ( I just had a visual of “precious” in Lord of the Rings) They are rarely bad things, in fact they are usually great things. But, the fact remains that I end up weighted down. Over the years I have had to let go of a lot of stuff, a lot of stuff I liked and I was good at in order to focus on what God was calling me to do.
Even though I love being adventurous and trying new things, I have to learn not to let those things become weights. I know what I want my life to be about and every decision I make either supports or hinders that. I want to be settled in who I am and what my life is about, I want to have margin, and I want to help others do the same.
What is it that you need to strip off? Social media, too many hobbies, unhealthy relationships, too many social events, being a part of too many organizations? I don’t know what it is for you, but I pray through the power of the Holy Spirit you begin to know if you haven’t already what you want your life to be about. Also that you would be able to strip everything off that may be slowing you down from running your race!