Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Jack of all


I am a jack of all trades…master of none. There are times when I embrace this and other times when I struggle.  It takes boodles of discipline to become a master at something. You know… the learning, the practice, more practice, laser focus, and still more practice. It’s pretty much the last three steps that get me every time!

You see, there is so much out there to learn and experience.
           I don’t want to be stuck doing just one thing.
                    So I choose to do many things…whilst leaving perfection completely out of the equation.

Today is the last day in April. I started this blog as ARiskADay project and I have made it to the end of my commitment…a HUGE accomplishment for this Jack! It has been fun to put my thoughts into words. I want to continue blogging but it will now happen in a weekly format.

I took a class in ASL (American Sign Language) this winter and explored the world of blogging in the spring. I must say, I am excited to see what summer will bring!! 

Monday, April 29, 2013

With Perseverance


There is a story about a little boy, Todd, who was born with his legs turned in so badly that his toes on each foot faced each other head on. He had to wear braces until he was 5 to help correct the position of his legs and feet. As you can imagine, he did not walk or run with the ease that other kids experienced. But, this did not slow him down. If anything, it gave him more determination.

Fast forward twenty some-odd years and you find this young man preparing for his first ever 10k. He has come a long way. The only hint today of his early struggles is a slight turn in of the toes. He trains with discipline. He stays the course. He keeps his eyes on the goal. He finishes the 1996 Peachtree Road Race in just over an hour.

This is a huge accomplishment…but only the first of many. ..
          This year he will run his 18th consecutive Peachtree Road Race ...AND
                    He has run in 2 half marathons and 8 full marathons in the past twelve years.

This amazing man is my husband.  We joke because I am his biggest athletic supporter!! He commits his plans to the Lord and then keeps his eyes on Jesus. Solid and steady is a great way to describe him. He inspires me beyond words and loves me beyond measure.

To him I say, “Run, Forrest, run!”

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  Hebrews 12: 1b-2a

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Clover All Over


Several years back my mom gave me a small clover plant in a cute little pot. It had dark purple leaves and delicate light purple flowers. I knew if my lovely plant wanted to stay that way, then I needed to get it in the ground, sooner than later.

You see…I don’t have a green thumb.

The only plants that survive around here are the ones with sheer will and drought tolerance. Seriously, we install only the hardiest plants and even then, some can’t go the distance. But, this little clover plant was special. Not only did it make the adjustment from pot to ground successfully, it began to thrive! It pokes its sleepy little head out of the mulch in early spring and hits the ground running until late fall. It has grown and expanded into a lush bed of purple wonder.

It makes me smile. I thank God, the creator of everything, for my little clover plant.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Earth+Day=Awesome


Earth day is my daughter’s favorite holiday. She readies herself for weeks to live this day as simply as possible. It is a day in which our bellies are filled with wholesome food, our rooms are lit by candlelight, and our feet walk more than normal. Of course there is always an annual, one of a kind tee shirt that she makes. Quite creative, she is.

We do try in many areas to take conscious steps to care for the Earth. We carry cloth bags to the grocery and to the mall. Our recycling can is as big as our trash can and is always heavier to pull to the curb. We have energy efficient appliances and windows and such. We have even switched our Christmas lights to LED lights. I would really like to figure out how to get a few solar panels up on the roof, but that hasn’t happened… yet.

Earth day is a great time to assess what we are doing and where we can make improvements. Something that I have noticed is how much paper we recycle. I will work harder this year to reduce the amount that comes into the house, thus lessening the amount in the recycle bin. I will let you know how I do!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Goodness Gracious


There is nothing like a weekend retreat… a time to get away and truly focus on something other than the everyday stuff of our lives. This past weekend I had the privilege to attend our confirmation retreat. We had twenty one of our finest 5th-9th graders with us. We learned loads about the church and what it means to be a Christian. We played games, ate snacks, enjoyed the great outdoors, and worshiped. It was amazing.

Grace was one of our topics. Grace is a gift freely given that is not earned or even deserved. God’s grace is there before we know Him, as we claim Him, and all the days that follow. There isn't anything we can do to earn this Grace. The action we can take is to accept it and pass it on.

I can only imagine what our world would be like if we were half as gracious to one another as God is to us… Goodness gracious, what an awesome world it would be!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Soul Feast

Picture it:

A cozy threadbare quilt, the soft glow of candlelight, a worn Bible, a favorite journal and stack of worthy reading material...

Rising early each morning to start each day the best way...

Praying, studying, listening, praising, reflecting, journaling, hoping, breathing, singing...

To live each day to the fullest we must make the most of it from the beginning. The spiritual discipline of morning quiet time is very important. It is food for the soul that truly impacts the rest of your day in a positive way.

Breakfast anyone???  :)

Holy Guacamole


I thoroughly enjoy Mexican food. Chips, the thinner the better, and salsa are a staple in our pantry. We have them as a snack, with dinner or as dinner. We are not particular as to when we consume them, just that we actually do consume them.

 I have an easy recipe for a delicious South of the Border meal.

Black Bean Chicken
1 can black beans drained
1 can mexicorn
1 jar of salsa
½ pkg taco seasoning
1 lb chicken breast

Pop it in the crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Shred chicken and mix thoroughly. I serve this in soft tortillas or with tortilla chips. Add some fresh cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheese, lettuce, guacamole, or whatever you like!!

Es muy delicioso!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Anti-Procrastination Wednesday

Several years ago I discovered Marla Cilley, the FlyLady. Through ideas from her book Sink Reflections and the www.flylady.net website I was able to make a few key changes in how I manage my household.

Marla talks about the importance of small routine actions that we can do daily to help make our lives simpler and more peaceful. Keeping the kitchen sink shiny is one of the first tasks to conquer. It is quite simple. Make sure that your sink is empty every night before you go to bed. That’s it! Whew, no rocket science here!

The FlyLady goes on to encourage simple evening and morning routines… pick out what you will wear in the evening and get dressed to the shoes first thing in the morning. Yes, it can still take me up to an hour to choose my outfit, but I don’t have to stress about that in the morning.

One of the best tips that I gleaned from the FlyLady is anti-procrastination Wednesday. It is the day to tackle all things that loom over your head just begging to be completed. You know the stuff… that one phone call that you have been dreading that you really need to make, balancing the check book, responding to certain emails while cleaning out your inbox, etc.

These are beginner 101 activities that any proper type A will do in their sleep. I am not type A, obviously. I want to gain a little peace in my life and I will take all of the help I can get to find it.

Now, where did I put that list of things to do…

Happy Anti-Procrastination Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Love is patient, Love is kind.

I have a hard time with these terms. Jesus tells us to love our enemies. I immediately think of a person who hides bombs at the Boston marathon.  There is obviously so much more to our Savior than we could ever understand. There must be a way to show love to someone who has done something horrific, I just don’t have any idea of what that would be.

As I pray for the victims and their families, I also pray for the one who is lost and terribly misguided. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Getting Warmer


I love warm weather. There is nothing like finding a sunny spot and soaking up the rays…winter, fall, spring or summer. I have, more than once, been referred to as a kitty cat for such behavior.

This is a glorious time of the year because the weather is finally getting warmer. The only thing that distracts from said glorious weather is the blanket of pollen that lays over everything. Seriously, if you laid still for any amount of time you would have a greenish-yellow glow.

Allergy meds are a staple of life when you live in the south. I have found one that works very well for me. It is nice to be able to enjoy this season without investing in tissues! It is nice to sleep through each night without awakening to the onslaught of sneezing and wheezing when a histamine attack occurs. Yes, the pollen is still an unsightly yellow mess, but at least it no longer messes with my head.

So, I say “bring it”. Bring the warm weather whether there is pollen or not. I am ready!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Financial Balancing Act

Financial Peace University
          The title says it all.
                     Life changing …Seriously, life changing.
                              Thank you, Dave.

In our house we treat Dave like he is just one of the family. Of course, I am referring to Dave Ramsey, the author of Financial Peace University. In just nine weeks, we experienced financial freedom, peace and power. Seriously, I kid you not.

We had always been cautious with financial matters and were ready for the next step. Here are a few of the steps that we took to find our peace:

    Don’t spend more than you earn (I know, rocket science it ain’t)

    Consistently work to be completely debt free

    Develop a realistic budget and adhere to it (it’s the last part of this that is a killer some months)

    Establish an emergency fund

    Plan to save for upcoming events like senior year, college, travel, designer handbag, etc.

Dave’s plan set us on a path to financial freedom. It is all about taking little steps now that have a big impact as we travel down the road. I will admit that there are a few things that we don’t do that Dave might frown upon, but all in all, we are better off than before we met Dave.

Are you having a tough time keeping your financial life balanced? It is well worth the investment of time, energy, and money to attend the FPU course. It is life changing …in the good, yet slightly challenging and rewarding sort of way.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Relationship Balancing Act


Family, friends, co-workers, committee members, fellow volunteers, class mates …the list goes on and on and on! I enjoy being around others so this one is particularly difficult for me to balance with consistency.

I realized a while back that I was not spending enough quality time with my parents. This was crazy talk considering they live two blocks from me! We had to be more deliberate so we established a set coffee time each week. I really look forward to seeing them and catching up over a cup of joe every week.

I must say that I do have a tendency to use the all or nothing approach. I will not see friends for a month and then I see everyone in the same week. It’s a blast, mind you, but nothing else gets done, then it’s nose to the grindstone and the cycle begins again.

So…here is a twist for today’s blog; I am in need of a few good tips.

          How do I maintain balance when I typically repel routines and everyday check lists?

                    How do I adjust the relationship with my children as they become adults?

                              Is there a valuable place for social media in my relationships?

I would very much appreciate any words of wisdom that you would like to share.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Mental Balancing Act


How does your thought garden grow? A healthy and well cultivated thought garden does not just happen. Like most things in life, we have to pray, plan, and carry out certain disciplines to grow a healthy thought garden.

“Just as a gardener cultivates his plot, keeping it free from weeds, and growing the flowers and fruits, which he requires, so may a man tend the garden of his mind, weeding out all the wrong, useless, and impure thoughts, and cultivating toward perfection the flowers and fruits of right, useful, and pure thoughts.”  James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

Dan Miller shared this story in his book, 48 Days to the Work You Love. This is not rocket science, yet it is something that requires discipline. None of us like weeds. Sure at first they are barely noticeable…eh, I’ll get to that later. But, before you know it, BAM! …they are choking out the plants you worked so hard to grow. 

Miller goes on to say that it is important to “control your own destiny by controlling what goes into your mind. The books you read, the thoughts you think, the television you watch, the conversations you participate in, the people you associate with, and the music you listen to create your future. Are you sowing the seeds for the life you want five years from now?”

Good, fine, great … SO here are some questions to help you weed more successfully:

        Are you reading books that engage your mind and allow for growth?

        Are you watching shows (TV or online) that are uplifting emotionally or mentally stimulating?

        What about the conversations you have, either with someone else or with yourself? Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  I find this especially tough sometimes when I am addressing myself (yes, I talk to myself a lot!).  Quoting this scripture reminds me to pull this nasty weed from my thought garden. Off to the compost pile with you!

I encourage you to focus on one weed that you will yank out of your thought garden this week. While you’re on your knees pulling those weeds make sure that you give thanks to the One who makes us stronger with each weed we remove.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Physical Balancing Act


With each passing year it takes WAY more energy to obtain significantly LESS result. Once I got over myself and accepted this, things started shaping up for me. Creating balance physically heavily relies on this one thing you must do …and that is ….wait for it ….move.

Just move.

Walk, stretch, clean the house, wash the car, do some yard work, Pilates, yoga, run, bike…so many choices!

 I have a personal trainer. She is a bargain at 50 bucks for unlimited sessions. She motivates me by saying stuff like, “You nailed that! You just beat your personal best!” and she doesn’t give me a rash when I stop after three whole burpees because I’m sucking wind.  Of course, I am referring to my Nike Xbox Crossfit trainer. My goal is to work with her 3 days a week and jog 3 days a week. I am still working toward the 6 days…averaging 3 total right now…I have to say it is 3 days more a week than I was doing a month ago. Booyah!!

I want to be passionate about my physical activity! This does not come without loads of assistance! Here are a few good motivators:
1.       Find an app or website that inspires you. I like Steve Kamb’s Nerdfitness.com because I like being part     of the rebellion.(I discovered Steve through my friend TED)
2.       Music. There are all kinds of playlists available online. Find one that inspires you!
3.       Enlist a partner. You can cheer each other on or complain to each other. Either way you’ll be exercising
4.       Fake it until you make it. Don’t feel like moving today? Try the Wonder Woman pose! It is amazing how well it works!  Stand up. Stand tall with feet firmly planted on the ground, shoulder width apart, hands on your hips. Hold this pose for 2 minutes.  It will chemically alter your confidence level (seriously. Check out TED speaker Amy Cuddy: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are).  

My goal is not to look like Wonder Woman…but assuming her power stance gives me the strength and confidence to choose to move. I want to be, look, and feel healthy and confident. I want to have the energy and stamina to face any challenge that I might encounter along this path in life.

Yoda hit the nail on the head when he said, “Do or do not, there is no try.” 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spiritual Balancing Act


This week I am focusing on balance. The kind of balance that keeps one well rounded and grounded. The kind of balance that allows for a joyful heart and a passion for life.  Yep, that’s what I’m talking about.

The foundational balance of all things “balance” is a healthy spiritual life. For me, that involves:
1.       Prayer - morning, grace, traffic, breath, intercessory, corporate
2.       Study - Bible, Spiritual development, Christian nonfiction, videos, podcasts
3.       Accountability - meeting with my Christian sisters who help me to stay on the right path
4.       Worship – at church, in the car, cleaning the house, going for a run
5.       Giving – money, gifts and talents, time, energy

Let me make this very clear; Superwoman, I am not. This is the list of things from which I gain my spiritual balance, but not all at the same time!! Some days it is all I can do to squeeze in a prayer or two.  Other days I will do something from every category. The important thing for me is to consistently cover these over the course of a week. I will indeed get off balance if I go too long without any one of these categories.

Dan Miller, author of 48 Days to the Work You Love, talks about making deposits into the different areas of your life to maintain balance. We have to consciously choose to make consistent deposits into these important areas of our lives.

Balance is a choice. It does not just happen by accident. It does not happen overnight. 

Start small and act on it.
         “God, please show me one way that I can serve you today and give me the courage to do it. Amen.”

Friday, April 5, 2013

Have you met TED?


I met a friend recently named TED. Many of you may know him…well, he’s really not a he…he is an “it”…made up of many he’s and she’s. TED is a series of talks on: Technology, Entertainment, and Design.

I became acquainted with TED while I was searching for topics to keep my brain engaged. As I get older I want to be sure that I continue to learn new things. Truth be told, I have never been much for classroom learning. I am just possibly a wee bit wiggly for traditional learning environments.

But, seriously…  I have not met a TED talk that I didn’t like.

I try to watch one a day. The problem is stopping after just one! Then my gears start turning trying to think of someone to send the recently watched talk. They are entirely too good to keep to myself…share, I must!!

OK, you’re thinking, “So what IS her favorite talk???”
          No can do…uh uh…no way…too many jaw dropping choices!!

I can, however, recommend the playlist: New to TED? (11 talks)                               http://www.ted.com/playlists/77/new_to_ted.html

Check it out for yourself. You should really meet TED if you haven’t already. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Floaties


I spent a bit of time today understanding feedburner. There are many functions that it can perform. I really wanted the email subscriptions to have the daily title on them. If I executed the directions correctly, that will successfully happen tonight with this blog post.  I have confidence that all will arrive as it should.

A bonus function that I stumbled upon was automatic posting of a link to twitter. I must admit that I am as new to twitter as I am to blogging! I feel like I am swimming in the middle of the huge sea of social media with a pair of floaties strapped to my arms!!! Where’s the boat??? I guess navigating this ocean at a leisurely pace is a great way to test the waters (yes, doggie paddling in your floaties is a leisurely pace). A boat would surely help me to maneuver this sea with speed and efficiency.

All in good time.

I will continue to explore with the tools that I have…yes; I am referring to the floaties. Is it my tool of choice?  Uh, no… but I am certain that one day soon my ship will come in.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Understanding Up


I have the pleasure of observing my daughter’s conservatory ballet class this week. She loves to dance. I love to watch her dance. Master Sue is working them diligently to be sure that they are prepared for their upcoming ABT testing. She gives them corrections to apply that will make them better dancers.

Here is one of the most interesting corrections that I heard today.

“You must go down to go up.”

I have heard the expression that what goes up must come down but I have not heard that one must go down to go up. What Master Sue is referring to is the ability to jump.  If you have both of your feet completely down on the floor then you can use that entire surface to press down into the floor for maximum jump in the “up” direction. I am sure that my terminology is all wrong, but you get the pointe.

It is really about setting yourself…making sure that you
          are in the best position
                    to utilize your best potential
                              which will provide the ultimate result.

It sounds like I could stand to apply this correction to my life. Amazing results are what I want in my life. I need to find the best position for me, fully use my potential gifts and then BAM! Watch out!

I’m down with that.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Really???


Some days I feel like I am 15 again. We call it “teen angst” in my house. My wheels are spinning as I hunker down to get a task completed…and yet, try as I might…no can do…not going to happen. So I do the “angsty” thing and toss a little moodiness into the situation…a smidge of frustration and maybe an eye roll or two.

I really do know better.
        
           So why do I pull this shenanigan?
                  
                     Maybe because I am not in control of what is going on around me…

Control. I would pay a pretty penny to have just a small amount on any given day. I do realize that I cannot always control my circumstances but I can always control my response. It is my choice…like choosing just the right Pok√©mon for battle...I can choose just the right response for any angsty situation.

I just need to remember to stop and choose wisely.  I want to win this battle. So, next time I will say, “Patience…I choose you!”

Monday, April 1, 2013

Custom Redirect


It has been a week since I started my full life journey. One discovery that I have made is that the more I learn about the technical side of blogging the less I know! It is a little overwhelming and just a wee bit intimidating. Terms like URL, Meta tag, and custom redirect are Greek to me. My head is swimming, but I will not be stopped in my tracks by a lack of understanding.

I am bold. I am brave. I am not afraid! (Thanks Kristie Kennedy for these words of wisdom!)

My goal is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the inner workings of a blog site throughout the month of April.

I will:

Contact a few of my blogging friends and glean info from them

          Find an “expert” on YouTube and watch blogging educational videos

                    Talk to my dad...he knows more about computers than the Geek Squad!

I am determined to keep moving forward! I WILL wrap my head around this blogging thing, one byte at a time.