Friday, February 25, 2011

Streamlining Project

If you are just now tuning in, I am in process of a week of blog posts concerning this book, this review and now turning my attention to the project I chose to embark upon.

After thinking through the goals that I have, there are many. I decided on a smaller one that will impact my daily life greatly and one that will be beneficial for many years to come. It largely has to do with my menu planning, once a month cooking, grocery store preparations and freezer inventory. I am in process of streamlining all of these processes in my home.

So, this means:

- sorting through my recipe box and recipe books to find ones I actually use (the "tried and true" recipes). COMPLETE!

- typing up the recipes I love and getting to the task of revising the recipes that need revision for our family's tastes. COMPLETE!

- organizing recipes by type, name and formatting them in a book. COMPLETE!

- revising my current "tried and true" recipes checklist with necessary ingredients for grocery store planning. COMPLETE!

- going through these favorite recipes and adding a section of the book for once a month cooking ( I got this book for Christmas and have been using it for the past month, but decided that for our family's tastes and for the long-term, coming up with my own once-a-month meals may prove more helpful and satisfying in the long run). My friend, Chelsea, is my partner in making this happen.
     Grocery Checklist for each cycle (1-6)
     Freezer supplies for each cycle (1-6)
     Processes for each cycle (1-6)

-Getting the whole thing printed and bound

- making a Freezer Inventory checklist since there will be many meals stored in there, it will help me to plan for the weeks accordingly. This is the image that you see at the top...COMPLETE!

If you want to keep me accountable, ask me how I am doing with finishing this project!

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Me Project

When I first saw the title of this book, I thought, "no way! I am not reviewing a book with that title." It sounds like something Victoria Osteen would write, Your Best Life now kind of stuff. No thank you.

The more I read about it, the more interested I got. I read snippets about how my passions and dreams don't have to wait until my kids are grown to begin taking baby steps toward those things. I wanted to see what she said about that. Practical and realistic steps to take in achieving the things that God has uniquely created you to do. Okay, let's dig in!

You see, if you are anything like me, as a wife to a busy husband and mother to three very little and very needy children, I don't have much time to think about myself. It is very limited. And to be honest, when I do, I admit that often I feel guilty. I have talked to other moms who feel the same. I'm not saying all the time, but many times I will leave to go to a girl's night out or to go to Starbucks to be by myself and read and there is a sense of guilt and a warning within me not to be gone too long. The kids need me. Allen needs me. The guilt can hang over me and keep me from being "all there." Like I said, not all the time, but sometimes. So I was excited to read a book about me. Just being honest here...

As I went into reading this book, I was excited because for the first time in many years, I feel like I am in a season where I actually do have a little extra time and energy now that I am not nursing or pregnant, and not kept up at night with a baby to tend to. I actually have nap times to work with. This season may be short-lived...I should make the most of it!

She starts by making the point that your passions and dreams don't have to wait until your kids are grown and out of the house. You can start now, even if it's just baby steps toward that dream. Obviously not to the detriment of your children or your husband and keeping the home, but even if it's just one hour one day a week you set aside toward a particular goal, that's more than you were doing! And keeping up with writing, photography, culinary skills, whatever it is for you, will keep your mind sharper to the task and always learning rather than diminishing in that area for 18+ years.

Obviously the Lord has uniquely created all moms and wives for that special role and to make that their primary area of service, but the author doesn't quite explain the great value in those things as I wished she would have. I would hate for any mom or wife to read this and think that the greatest value wasn't found in that but in another area of their life! What a loss that would be if they gave up several nights a week with their family to invest in a hobby instead of investing in the little lives that God has entrusted to them! Nonetheless, her main emphasis is that besides the priceless role of being a wife or mom, what has God uniquely created you for, what is He impressing on your heart?

She mentions writing down goals for what you would want your next 50 years to look like and I immediately thought of the parable of the talents and God asking me what I had done with my time here. I want all that I do and work toward to be storing up treasures in heaven. That may sound selfish, but Jesus says to do it! I want to stockpile those treasures! So I am evaluating my goals with that stipulation. How can I honor God with this goal?

I thought of a few things that I could do in 21 days (shorter projects/goals) and then some more long-term goals. The book is intensely practical, laying out each day of your progress and helpful hints for each day. I didn't do all of them, but if I had, it would have been a good kickstart. The shorter goal that I chose wouldn't have required a lot of the ideas that she put forth. I am looking forward to finishing the shorter goal that I am tackling and future goals, asking the Lord to either affirm them or diminish them within me.

One of my favorite quotes from the book:

" The thing that is really hard, and really amazing is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself." -Anna Quindren-

All in all, I liked the book. Would I need to use it again to put together a goal or project? Probably not. Is it anything new that I didn't already know? Not too much falls into that category. But I will give it this: if you have a particular goal in mind and you are disciplined to go through the book and the actions steps each day, it would be a good self-discipline to getting the goal accomplished instead of just seeing it on your to-do list. So, I would recommend it in that regard.

If you haven't read Just Do Something, I would highly recommend this book as a primer to whatever goal you are looking to accomplish. It is the biblical outline of making decisions without "dreams, open doors, random bible verses, casting lots, liver shivers, writing in the sky, etc." If you have trouble sticking with it or being encouraged that you have a gift or unique goal that you could use to glorify God, pick up The Me Project as well. Or leave a comment and maybe you will win the book in our giveaway!

In the coming days I will be blogging about my 21-day goal, what it entailed and the results of it! Stay tuned!

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Monday, February 21, 2011

{Giveaway} First One Ever (and a book preview)!

I was asked to do this blog tour with the understanding that I would get this book, be able to enter my readers into a {GIVEAWAY} and that I would be able to review this book as openly and honestly as I desired to. Having said that, I was interested in this book for several reasons:

1. It's hard being a mom of 3 littles to have time for thinking of myself. What is this little book about?
2. There is often guilt associated with doing projects outside the home sphere...I wondered what she would say in that regard.
3. There are many dreams and goals the Lord has put on my heart. I wanted to explore them...even if it's just baby steps now and larger plans later. It's okay to think about.

Read the following article and perhaps be inspired to pick up this book, or to follow up on something that you have wanted to do. Check out the book summary, the author bio and giveaway. If you want to be entered in the giveaways, leave a comment with your email address. The winner of the giveaway for the blog will receive the book, and the grand prize winner of the book tour giveaway will be given the Deluxe Starbucks gift basket. Over the next week I will be reviewing the book and letting you in on my 21 day project.

Kick Start Living Your Dream

Book Summary
(San Jose, CA) Has that rush to make (and break) New Year’s resolutions already waned? According to Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, taking small steps every day will not only help you stay committed to your goal, but will also help you ultimately achieve that goal when obstacles come up. Author Kathi Lipp wants you and your friends to live out those dreams—and have some fun along the way.
As women, we forget the goals and dreams of our younger years. The busyness of everyday life gets in the way. To-do lists replace goals. The Me Project provides women with fun and creative ways to bring back the sense of purpose and vitality that comes with living out the plans and dreams God has planted in our hearts. Kathi Lipp’s warm tone and laugh-out-loud humor motivates women to take daily steps toward intentional goals. The end result? We get back our lives and enjoy living in the confidence of a purposeful life in spite of our chaotic schedules.

This handy guide coaches women to do one simple thing toward achieving our goals each day for three weeks. A woman experiencing the exhilaration of a rediscovered life offers more as a wife, mother, friend, volunteer, career woman.
Finding the balance between living day-to-day with purpose while pursuing the passions God has placed in our hearts is a delicate pursuit. In this refreshing, insightful book, Kathi lays out a doable plan that makes sense and helps make our God-given dreams a reality. Never stop dreaming, because women who dare to dream do make the world a better place. 
—Jean Blackmer
    author of MomSense: A Common Sense Guide to Confident Mothering
   Publishing Manager, MOPS International 

Author Bio
Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker, currently speaking each year to thousands of women throughout the United States. She is the author of The Husband Project and The Marriage Project, serves as food writer for Nickelodeon, and has had articles published in several magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Discipleship Journal. Kathi and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four teenagers and young adults. For more information visit her website: 
Grand Prize Giveaway:
Deluxe Starbucks Coffee Gift Basket
  • Three 2.5-oz. bags of Starbucks coffee
      (Sumatra, House Blend, and French Roast)
  • Tazo black tea
  • Starbucks marshmallow cocoa
  • Almond roca
  • Almond roca buttercrunch toffee cookies
  • White chocolate and raspberry cookies
  • 2 Starbucks mugs
  • Keepsake black bamboo basket
$62 value

Don't forget to comment if you want to be entered into the {GIVEAWAY}!
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lent Preparations

Now that Valentine's is over, I am beginning to think about Lent and how to celebrate it with my husband and little ones. There are several no-brainers that have worked so well that we will continue to use, such as:

  • Lent Countdown with Resurrection Eggs, counting down each day with opening a new egg. To see how to make your own set of Resurrection Eggs, check this out

  • Our Playdough Mountain, inspired by Noel Piper, where we bake a mountain-shaped piece of playdough together and follow the life, death and resurrection of Jesus by moving the little stick figures to where they need to go. For example, on Good Friday, we transfer Jesus to the cross, later that night he is buried in his tomb (which is on the opposite side) and we cover the opening with a stone. On Sunday morning, the kids wake up to see that the stone is gone and Jesus is alive. He is risen! We celebrate and even put out balloons, streamers and such to celebrate that He is Risen indeed! Here is the link to the origin of this:
Noel's Playdough Mountain

  • And I am also thinking through making some sort of banner to put the contents of our resurrection eggs once we have opened them each day. Sort of a "display" so that we can walk past it, remember it and have the kids memorize the sequence of events leading up to Jesus' death and resurrection. I will let you know what I come up with once I brainstorm it some more. 

What Lent ideas do you have??? What readings to you go through during the season of Lent?

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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Mary's Portion

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her."     Luke 10:38-42

Most people are super familiar with this passage of scripture, even to the point of writing it off. I can't say I didn't try. The Lord kept on and kept on putting it on my heart over Christmas break.

The two weeks leading up to Christmas were completely nuts. I was running around like a headless chicken most days: cooking, baking, making goodies, making gifts, wrapping gifts, hosting get-togethers, Advent activities with the kids...and truth be told, I was resenting all of it. Because of my bad planning and failure to say "no", not knowing my boundaries, I was getting all stressed out and Martha-like.

I prayed that God would slow me down. I knew that I was being Martha and far from being Mary, but I couldn't stop, there was too much to be done. Do you know that God answered my prayer? Not in the way I expected or wanted Him to, but nonetheless, He answered. He answered by completely slowing me a stand still. First with a virus that swept through our family, taking me out first. Head in the toilet, yes, I'm listening, God?

And then He slowed us down with a difficult trial in our family. A time of grieving and restoration took place when following the two crazy weeks, we had two completely empty weeks to see God's activity, whereas before we had pushed Him aside. He allowed me to see Him in the little moments throughout the day - the song with the perfect words that ministered to me, the cuddly sick child who never cuddles otherwise, the random run-ins in the grocery store, the unexpected opportunities to minister. I began to notice and see His activity and realize that He was there all along, but the noise had been too loud to hear His soft whispers. 

I can relate well with Martha, as I trust you can too. I have yet to meet someone who has told me that they struggle with trying to be more like Martha, they are really a Mary at heart. I know they are out there, but I haven't met one. So I found myself asking, "How do I choose the good portion when there is so much to be done?" The Lord gently showed me that I was asking the wrong question. Martha was not doing a bad thing with her gifts of hospitality and cooking skills. The Lord had really gifted her in that! Jesus was addressing her heart when he gently rebuked her. He was not saying that what she was doing was sinful or even that it didn't need to be done, but that her heart in doing those things was sinful.

Jesus always went around addressing people's hearts even when they weren't getting it. People practically had their to-do lists out, wanting Jesus to add action items to it and Jesus just kept on telling people to trust and to believe and asking them to do things that He knew would address the idol in their hearts (see Mark 10:17-27 and John 6:28-40, to name a few). But when he rebuked Martha with all gentleness, she responded with much teachability.

Here's a teachability test for you: how would you feel if you woke up 30 years from now with the same habits, attitudes and sins that you have now? How about evaluating how your life is different from 10 years ago? Has there been change?  (let's hope!) But is that change based on the Gospel and its transforming power? When we belong to Jesus, staying where we are at is not an option. He wouldn't allow Martha to stay put in  her sin, He wouldn't allow me to and He won't allow you to if you belong to Him.

He came, lived a perfect life and died on the cross as the perfect payment for our sins not just so that we could have a ticket to heaven, but so that we could be made NEW! There is so much more to the Christian life than sitting in a pew every Sunday. There is so much more than the trip to the altar that you took when you were five years old. There is abundant life (John 10:10)! And it transforms! He can do this if we are teachable and respond to his rebukes and leading. In what ways are you pushing Him aside or failing to respond to His leading? Martha thought she had value because she was productive; she truly had value because she belonged to Jesus. Where do you seek value? Is it in all the "doing" like Martha? Be teachable and allow the Lord to show you that those things don't earn you anything. I am certainly learning and re-learning that.

Ephesians 2:10 says this:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Good works are a GOOD thing! We see that here as we understand that God prepared them for us and we were created for them, so what's the rub? Is it the "good portion" (the worship) or the service and good works, like it says here?

I definitely see balance in the Scriptures, and I see that without negating either worship or good works, we can find balance that Jesus offers as our foundation. On one side of the spectrum you have a completely overbooked schedule with good works and service filling it up and eventually you will see spiritual dryness (check! been there!) and on the other side of the spectrum you may see isolation and failure to engage community, failure to have accountability and meaningful relationships - people who care about you and will speak truth into your life. This is a must! If you don't have this, I will gladly help you find it.

Balance is possible, even if you are in a stage of life like me, with littles running around everywhere, needing your help with every little thing. I understand that every minute is occupied while they are awake. Plan better and try to do service opportunities with your kids. We have taken our children with us to nursing homes, canned food drives, hospitals for visitation, and delivering food to someone who is struggling. If you wait until your kids are in bed or your kids are older, you are putting off an opportunity to serve the Lord in this way and teach your children how to serve. If asked to serve and you can't do it joyfully, know your boundaries and decline. Don't fear people more than you fear God and certainly don't agree to make a meal for someone out of guilt when your schedule is already overloaded and you know you need to spend that night with your family or in the Word.

Remember what Jesus said about Mary? He said that she had chosen the "good portion" and that "it would not be taken away from her." It wouldn't be taken away from her then, so that she could go help Martha and it won't be taken away from her for all eternity. I have been asking myself the hard questions: is what I am choosing going to be taken away or am I choosing the "good portion" like Mary, the portion that is eternal? What about you?

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