Update : 10 Things

It’s been over a week since I took a bunch of items out of my purse and minimized them down to 10 total.  (See previous post on the 10 Item Challenge) It has been great!  My shoulder has been thanking me all week, it feels so much better not lugging a heavy purse around.  And obviously it was unneccessary.

I have not missed one thing that I took out.  I even went to Costco the other day and realized I did not have my Costco card, but they will print out a temporary card for you in minutes if you do not have your card with you.  Problem solved.

I realized now that most of the things I carried, just in case, were not used very often.  It is silly to carry so many items around and rarely use them.  I love this minimizing stuff.  It is very freeing (and more comfortable).

I will continue to keep my purse like this, but now I need a smaller purse.  I will ask Santa for that.

Next…I’m going to work on my car.  I recently cleared out the stuff that I do not use, now I need to go back through and minimize further.  I need to get it to 10 items total.  I love a challenge.

What do you need to minimize?

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Why Can’t Staying Fit Be Easier?

I am a fairly healthy person, and I am thankful for that.  However, as I get older I notice that it is harder and harder for me to maintain my weight.  I’m noticing more and more cellulite showing up.  Ugh. 

My mother once told me that with each decade of your life, it is that much harder to lose weight.  She was right. I am 39 years old and if I do what I did 10 years ago to try and lose some weight, nothing happens now.  In fact, the weight is increasing faster.  Yikes.

I do love to run, but I find myself putting it off or just not doing it some days.  I can always find something else to do besides exercise.  Always.

It’s not only the exercise though.  It’s what I eat.  To a lot of people I probably would be considered a healthy eater.  However, I LOVE carbs.  In fact, if I could live off a diet of cereal, toast, bagels, chips, and pasta I would be set.  These foods do NOT help you lose weight, trust me.  I’ve tried the carb lovers diet and it’s not pretty.  Now, I don’t eat a lot of processed foods or unhealthy carbs, but I eat way too many of them.  I may eat Grape Nuts and whole wheat bread, but when that is your main source of food, there is a problem.

I know I need to eat more fruits and vegetables.  I sometimes only eat one or maybe two servings.  That’s sad and not good for me.  But when there is toast I would rather have that than fruit.  I have to consciously make the decision to eat fruit or it would never happen.  I do not crave it, unfortunately.

I figured the best way to create a goal and stick to it, is to put it in writing.  Not just in my journal for me to see though because I’ve tried that and I’m not good and keeping myself accountable.  I need external help there.   I decided I needed to put my goals on my blog so that I can always reference them and I know other people had read them.  I think (hope) this will encourage me to stick to the plan.  It’s worth a try, that’s for sure.

Here are my goals:

  1. Eat less carbs daily.  If I have cereal,  I will have some fruit with it instead of toast or more carbs.
  2. Eat 6-8 servings of fruit and veggies daily – That will leave less room for carbs and be much better for me.
  3. Work out 5 days a week – I can pick which 5, but it has to be 5 days.  No excuses.  20 minute minimum and it can be any type of exercise I want it to be.
  4. Drink more water – I mainly drink water, but I do not drink enough.  I need to work towards 8 glasses a day and not just with meals.
  5. Rest – sleep at least 7-8 hours a night, and keep Sunday as a day of rest and relaxation to prepare me for the week.
  6. Increase the amount of natural foods I eat- I will work in a lot more vegetables and fruit, but also more whole grains, beans, etc.

Those are my main goals, and it starts today.  I will check in and give you my progress each week.  If you are working on some of these same goals, please let me know.  We can do it together!

Preparing Your Kids For The Path

bxp213788Our pastor recently used this phrase in a sermon: “Prepare your kids for the path, do not prepare the path for your kids”.  I find myself saying this one quite a bit to friends and to myself.  I believe it is extremely important to remember.

If we prepare our kids for the path, we will be equipping them for life.  If we prepare the path for our kids, we are actually going to hurt their future and they will not be prepared for life.  They will more than likely struggle and not be prepared to handle tough situations.

It is hard at times to prepare our kids for the path, but it will be so worth it.  We have to remember we are given children to teach them the way God wants them to go.  That is our job.  Life is going to be tough and it is our duty to prepare them for that, with God’s Word. 

Here are a few things to remember when trying to prepare your kids for the path:

1.  Use The Bible – Reference the Bible often. Teach your kids from the Bible and use it when any problems or concerns arise.  The Bible is your manual.

2. Set Boundaries – It is very important to set boundaries and stick to them.  As parents we need to continually set the rules and boundaries, and follow through with any consequences when our children go beyond those boundaries or break the rules.   That prepares them for adulthood.  When you do not follow the rules in the workplace or in society there are some serious consequences.  Our kids need to learn that early. 

3. Be Consistent – This is key to helping your kids fully understand and live within the boundaries.  You must be consistent with the consequences, or they will not work.  If your kids know that sometimes you waiver and give in, then they will be much less likely to stay within the boundaries.  I know how it is, it’s hard to be consistent sometimes.  You are tired, worn out, busy, or pre-occupied and it can be difficult to maintain the consistency.  However, it is a must.  For the boundaries and rules to work, it is imperative to stick to the consequences. 

4.  Encourage Good Behavior – Keeping them in line is one key to preparing them for the path, but encouraging and praising them is equally important.  Your kids need to know you love them and support their good behavior and decisions.  When they are doing things right, really encourage that.  Let them know how proud you are of them. 

5.  Encourage Their Interests – The Bible verse “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6) means to help your children develop their spiritual gifts and the skills God has given them.  Encourage their interests and their strengths.  Help them to discover how God made them and how they can use that for the glory of God.  Do not try to guide them into doing what you think they should do, or what you want them to do.  Spend time finding out what it is they are good at, love to do, and what their strengths and weaknesses are.  Helping them to discover this as they are growing up will encourage them to continue searching themselves and working with God to uncover His will for their lives.  If we never work on these things with them, and show them the importance of understanding the person they truly are and how God made them, then they will begin their adult life lost and will more than likely let life lead them, instead of turning to God for guidance.

6.  Be A Good Example – As much as we would like to think our kids listen to everything we say, the don’t.  They do, however, watch everything we do.  If you teach it and live it, they will be much more likely to listen and to follow your lead.  If you teach it, but do not live it you will be sending a confusing message to them.  Be sure to live your life as if someone is watching, because someone IS watching.

7. Spend Time With Them – I cannot stress the importance of this one.  They do not need more toys or more “stuff”, they just need you.  They need to know they are important to you and that you value them.  Sit down and play games with them.  Have a family game night.  Read with them nightly.  Create your own stories together.  Color or paint together.  Get outside and go to the park together.  Throw the ball in the backyard.  Dance in the living room together.  Have a family movie night and let them pick the movies.  Make cookies together.  These ideas are all very inexpensive (if not free) and easy activities to do on a regular basis. What they do for your relationship with your kids is priceless.

Proper Planning

blog1I’ve always loved to make lists.  Whenever I have a lot to do, I feel the strong urge to sit down with a pen and paper and create a list.  It’s just part of who I am. 

You’ve heard the saying….”Plan your work, and work your plan”, right?  Well planning is very important, but it is only 50% of the entire task.  You must put your plan into action for it to work.

I have made a lot of lists in my life.   However, at times, I have not followed through on all the items on the list.  This is where it causes a problem.  A list is great, but it means nothing if you do not act out what is on the list. 

The same is true for acting without a plan.  Acting without a plan is like going on a road trip without a map.  You’ll either get lost, or end up somewhere you did not intend to be.  Sound familiar?  For a good portion of my young adult life, I was in this state.  I was on a life road trip without a map.   I would make a list of to-do’s, of groceries needed, of projects due, Christmas presents, etc.  What I did not make lists of, were the more important things.  Life goals, work goals, priorities, etc.  This allowed life to lead me, instead of me leading my life (with God of course). 

It’s not only important to make a plan, it’s extremely important to make the right plan.  You must have God involved in all of your plans and you must move each plan to action.  If you engage God, plan early and often, and follow through…..you will be on your way to a proactive life lived out intentionally. 

Here are my steps to successful planning (and action):

  1. Start with God – Each day spend time with God.  Read your Bible, pray, and listen (really listen) to what it is you hear God telling you or leading you to do.  Keep a journal of what you hear God tell you, and any thoughts you have after spending time with Him.  It’s great to look back over your journal and see where He has been leading you over time.
  2. Create a Life Plan – Prepare a list of the goals you have for your life. You need this as the ultimate guide to keep you focused on the most important things in your life.  You can create a Life Plan which is very helpful.  Click here to read about it on Michael Hyatt’s blog. 
  3. Check Your To-Do’s & Commitments –  Avoid planning activities or making commitments that do not in some way promote one of your goals.  Even resting can be one of your goals.   Sunday can be a planned day of rest.  That is still a life goal.  They do not all have to be related to activity.  Resting is Biblical and even God rested on the seventh day. 
  4. Break It Down – Start with a yearly list, then a monthly list, then a weekly list, and then finally break out your plan into daily to-do’s. 
  5. Modify Regularly – Once you start planning, continue to tweak and alter the plan as needed.  New goals may appear and changes will need to take place.  Life changes and so must your plans.  Remember you are creating a plan of action for your life,  but your guide is God.  If He decides a different route needs to be taken, then you must plan and follow accordingly. 
  6. Work the Plan – This is so crucial to any of this working.  If God is leading you somewhere, then follow.   To follow you must act.  You must put your plan into action and work hard!  Do not forget this part, without it you get nowhere.  Not working your plan or putting it into action is like going on a road trip with your map in hand, but no car, bus pass or airplane tickets.  You will go nowhere.  You can have the best plans, but they mean nothing without action. 
  7. Stay on Course – Continuing to stay focused on your plan, God’s leading and any changes that need to be made will help you stay on course.  Keep working at it…and you will get where God intended you to be.  It will be where you were meant to be.  Not lost somewhere without a map, or worse, without any way to get there.

Do You Love Others As You Should Be?

Love-2Jesus gave us our two great commandments in Mark 12:30-31.  The first is fairly easy for me.  “…love the Lord with all of your heart, all of your soul, all of your mind, and all of your strength. ”  I can do that.  He is so worthy of my love.   That one is easy for me.  The second command is to “Love your neighbor as yourself”.  Wow.   I will be the first to admit that I definitely need some work on this one.  The Bible even says that if you do not love others, then you do not know God.  Ouch. 

God is serious when He commands us to love others as ourselves.  We are to treat others exactly how we want to be treated. “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31

The Bible doesn’t say you only need to love those that are easy to love, or those that deserve love, or those that are nice to you.  No, the Bible gives a blanket statement of “love others as yourself” and that is how God intended it to be.  It is for everyone. 

Now, if someone is untrustworthy, or mean, etc.  You must forgive them and love them as yourself, but you do not have to be friends with them or hang around them.  That would not be smart.  So God doesn’t expect you to blindly trust people.  That is not one of His commands to us.  He just wants you to forgive others who have wronged you and love them.  Do what you can for them, but if they treat you badly, then you can stay away from them as much as possible.  Do not get that confused.  You can forgive and love others from afar.  God does not want you to harbor any hatred in your heart.  It only ends up hurting you.  Loving others and forgiving others frees you of that hurt, but it doesn’t mean that you then allow those people to hurt you more.  I have struggled with this concept in the past so I want to make it clear.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2.   This verse is a call to not only love our neighbors, but to be patient with them.  Aren’t we all guilty of being harder on others sometimes?  I definitely have been guilty of getting frustrated or even angry with someone for doing something I myself have done.  How does that help anyone, including me? 

Start today and practice loving others, forgiving others and being patient with others.  Reach out to someone today, show that you love them.  Do not let others frustrate you today in line, or in traffic, etc.  Just love them, forgive them and realize they may be having a rough day today.  Be the smiling face that changes their day, not the frowning face that just adds to their pain or sadness.

Can you imagine what the world would be like, or even your neighborhood, if we all adopted this philosophy?

‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. – Leviticus 19:18

Good Music and Cool Websites

Today I want to pass along some good inspirational music, and a few cool sites I have recently stumbled upon.

Two songs that I really like right now:

“Becoming Who You Are” by Mainstay.  This is a great song with an important message.

I love this song. It’s beautiful and also has a great message:

COOL WEBSITES:

God’s Daytimer:  This site has daily Bible verses and Bible studies along with other good infromation.  It’s a good site to stop by and check out each day.

Debt Free Adventure:  This site is a Bible-based personal finance think tank.  You can find some great tips for saving money on this site.

Bible Money Matters:  Another great Biblically based financial website with a lot of great information.

Christian Career Tools:  Pretty self explanatory.  It’s a good Biblically based Christian advice site.

Stereo Truth:  This site has good  information on Christian music and news.

Aardvark:  My husband showed me this site.  You can ask any question you need answered and someone will answer it for you.  For instance if you are looking for a good hotel in a certain area you can put in that question and someone in that area, or someone who knows will answer you.  You can also join and put in your information and they will send you questions you may be able to answer for your area. Pretty cool.

Journaling is Just Good For You

I am such a supporter of journaling.  You can ask my husband.  I’m constantly encouraging him to get his thoughts down on paper.

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It started when I was a teenager.  Whenever I would feel overwhelmed, or worried about a lot of concerns I would write them down.  I would make a list of my worries and then once they were on paper I could go through them and think about why they weren’t that big of a deal.   I pretty much do the same today.

However, now I do most of my journaling right after I read the Bible and have prayer time with God.  I usually start each journal entry with what I heard God tell me.  If you have prayer time with God daily, I would highly suggest doing this.  It is so interesting and faith affirming when you go back and read all the different words you’ve heard God tell you during different times in your life.  You can see more clearly where he was leading you in the past and where he is leading you today.

I can’t say enough about what journaling has done for me.  If you’ve never done it, give it a try.  You don’t have to write anything profound, just start writing and see what comes out.   Write about all the things you are thinking about, worrying about, happy about, thankful about…etc.  You get the picture.

Journaling helps you place your thoughts onto paper.  It helps give you clarity if nothing else.  Once you have all of those thoughts that are swirling around in your head down on paper, they are much less intimidating or overwhelming.

Try it today, and if you are like my husband and do not like to hand write anything then start a digital journal on your computer.  It is the same idea and will have the same result.   It’s just plain good for you.

Also, in honor of Thankful Thursday today:  I am thankful for my mother-in-law, Margaret.  Today is her birthday.  Happy Birthday Margaret!  She encourages me, inspires me and she sends me some great recipes!  She is also an excellent editor(she is currently helping me write an article) and a good friend.  I feel so lucky to have her as my mother-in-law.

Marriage Isn’t 50/50

Our pastor made this statement during one of his recent sermons.  Marriage is not 50/50.  It’s 100/100.  It’s not about being fair, or always giving the same amount to the marriage.

It’s about each person giving 100%.  It’s about serving your mate, going above and beyond and not counting the costs or keeping score.

Next time you are upset about something not being “fair” in your marriage, remember that it was never meant to be fair.  It’s about commitment.  Period.  It’s about giving everything you have.

However, all of this is not at all possible without God being at the forefront.  You have to have God first in your marriage, or it will never work.  If both of you are focused on God then you’ll be headed in the right direction.  If that is not the case, you’ll be headed in circles or worse, nowhere.

Marriage is a commitment to each other and most important a commitment to God.  You’ve committed to God that you will love this person no matter what, that you will be there for them when times are tough, you’ll pick up the slack, serve them, and respect them.

Ephesians 5:33 says  “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”  It doesn’t say “respect your husband if he deserves it”  and it doesn’t say “love your wife only if she deserves it”  It just says to do it.  This, in my opinion, is what keeps marriages together for the long haul.  Because I can almost guarantee you will come across times where neither of you deserve love and/or respect.  And God knew that, that’s why He instructs us to do it anyway.

Our pastor also always says that if you see something positive in your spouse, then focus on that.   Even if it’s small at the moment  just keep fanning the flames to make it bigger.  Encourage whatever is good until you are blue in the face. 

Nobody said marriage was easy, but if we approach it in the way God has outlined in the Bible it will not only last through the hard times, it will flourish.  

Here are 5 things that will help every marriage:

  1. Focus on God for your guidance, answers and strength
  2. Pray together
  3. Communicate constantly
  4. Honor your commitment to your spouse by loving and respecting them no matter what
  5. Have fun

Marriage can be a lot of fun.  It can be so rewarding.  You have your best friend right next to you to do life with.  But I think the most important component is commitment.  100% commitment from both sides.

10 Item Challenge

This weekend we had a garage sale.  It felt SO good to get rid of some of our “stuff” and get paid for it!  We are continuing to minimize our belongings everyday.  I took a bunch of our books yesterday to Half Price Books, and also added more items to Craigslist to try and sell.  We are realizing we don’t NEED much, and a lot of this “stuff” was just sitting around collecting dust.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m participating in the 100 Thing Challenge, and my goal is to have my personal belongings down to 100 items by January.  This is helping my overall goal to minimize and simplify my life. 

To help with all of this minimizing, I decided to create another smaller challenge of my own.  My goal is to only have 10 items in each of these areas.

  1. My purse
  2. My wallet
  3. My bathroom drawer
  4. My desk drawer
  5. My jewelry box
  6. My car

I figure by working on these areas, it will break down my overall goal of 100 things into smaller chunks.  So today I am going to start with my purse.  Here is a current list of what items are in my purse:

  1. Wallet (with 10+ items inside)
  2. Makeup bag (with 10+ items inside)
  3. Camera
  4. Sunglasses
  5. Reading glasses
  6. Wipes
  7. Kleenex
  8. Gum
  9. Cell Phone
  10. Pens
  11. Phone charger
  12. Camera charger
  13. Bottle of Advil
  14. Allergy medicine
  15. Hand lotion
  16. 2 bottles of hand sanitizer
  17. Mini umbrella
  18. Hair bands
  19. Glasses cleaning cloth
  20. Business cards

Needless to say, my purse is heavy!  And although a lot of this stuff comes in handy sometimes, I do not think I need to carry around so much stuff every single day!

So, for this week I’m going to put only these items back in my purse:

  1. Coin purse (with cash, license and debit card)
  2. One pen
  3. Chapstick
  4. Brush/Mirror combo
  5. Cell Phone
  6. Gum
  7. Sunglasses
  8. Hand lotion
  9. Cell phone charger
  10. Camera

And that is it.  I will work on my wallet and then put it back in my purse, but for now I’m going to work with just my coin purse with the essentials.  My wallet will need to be trimmed down quite a bit.  

My shoulder is going to thank me! 

See if there are any areas you want to minimize and try the 10 Item Challenge.  Let me know how it goes!

God Loves Me Even Though He Knows My Past

That’s a comforting thought to me.  That God loves me no matter what I do.  He loves me despite the bad choices I have  made in my past.  He knows my entire bio, all of it, and he still loves me and wants a relationship with me. 

If we focus on this fact, it makes all the small disappointments we deal with on a day-to-day basis seem so silly.  Doesn’t it?  If God loves you no matter what happens, then why do we really have any fear?  Is there anything more important than God’s love for us and his pursuit of us?   If we can hang onto this love and the knowledge that He made us so that He could have a relationship with us, then doesn’t that make anything else we may lose or that doesn’t work out for us just pale in comparison? 

So think about the issues you are facing today.  Your worries, your complaints, your struggles….whatever they are, doesn’t it help knowing that none of that could ever separate you from God?  If you are upset or hurt or mad at yourself for decisions you have made recently or in your past….doesn’t it lessen the blow knowing that God still loves you and wants a relationship with you despite those decisions? 

He knows EVERYTHING about us, and he still loves us, wants a relationship with us, and most importantly He has a place for us with Him in heaven, IF we do one simple task.  If we accept Jesus as our Savior.  That is it.  All you have to do is say a prayer telling Jesus that you accept what He did for your sins, and that you want Him to live in your  heart forever.  That you will live for him, and you are grateful for what He has done for you.   That’s it.  It’s real easy, and it’s the ultimate gift from God.

We had a guest pastor at church yesterday and He described this gift from God as the 8th Wonder of the World.  The fact that God loves us no matter what, pursues a relationship with us at all times, and has a place for us in heaven.  We are so undeserving of this, that is the miracle.  The wonder. 

Remind yourself of this often, it definitely puts a new perspective on life.