Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Thoughts...

My thoughts on Christmas are many, and varied.  I am one who tends to get my hopes and expectations up, only to find that the actual event doesn’t come close to meeting them.  Case in point – Christmas.  Happens every year.  I want so badly to create the perfect atmosphere, with decorations, candles and cookies, and experiences, and family, and gifts and…..

But what I learned this year was…it’s ok.  It's ok that everything wasn't perfect...what is perfect anyway?

We decorated the house right after Thanksgiving, and aside from adding a couple of lighted greens on the mantle that we don’t have (I substituted a couple of shelves) we really didn’t so anything different than in past years. 

And it’s ok.  We’ve still enjoyed the lights and the sparkle.  I love the sparkle.

I had planned to make dozens of cookies as I’d done in the past.  Only I managed to make two small batches right before Christmas and one the day after.

It’s ok.  We’ve had just enough for us to get the taste and not so much that we will be tossing it in the garbage come Jan. 1. 

I usually send out dozens of Christmas cards / photos.  None this year.  We did take a photo on the 23rd, but I have yet to even get it from the camera to the computer.

It’s ok.  Maybe I’ll send of New Year’s Cards.  Maybe I won’t.  Think anyone will really notice anyway?

The shopping was no fun at all.  I usually enjoy finding the perfect few gifts and some stocking stuff.  But this year, we decided to change up the way in which we give the gifts and I think it overwhelmed me.  That, and the wrapping…  In the past I’ve always had the cutest ribbons and bows on perfectly wrapped boxes of all shapes and sizes.  And my goal is to have them done several days before Christmas. 

This year, I was thankful to get the items in boxes, covered in paper and tagged.  We ran out of both bows and tags, so that only added to the excitement…

But it’s ok.  The gifts were beautiful under the tree for a few hours, and each child received gifts that surprised and delighted them!

We had an exceptionally quiet season here this year, which in retrospect was a God-send.  John’s knee has been so painful that travelling a whole lot would have been tough.  So we were home.  And honestly, I had moments were I felt a little lonely.  A little left out maybe.  I knew friends and families who were gathering together and it just got to me a little. 

But it’s ok.  These are people I cherish and love to spend time with thoughout the year, not only during the week of Christmas.  And I’ve made a bit of a commitment to myself to do just that – spend more time with them during the year. 

My list could go on…the knee injury that spanned the whole month of December before treatment began; the virus that knocked me out for five days; etc.

But I guess my question is this -
Why do we put so much pressure on one day - when we are called to celebrate Him and His Presence every day – 365 days a year?

I’ve had some time to reflect and ponder how we might celebrate Christmas next year.  I want our focus to return to CHRIST the way it should and these other things to be less and less important.  Don’t get me wrong, I still want to celebrate, but years like this make me long for the times when we had little, little ones, just a few decorations, no money and the kids almost enjoyed the box more than the gift itself.  Can I get an Amen?

It’s ok.  Christmas comes around the same time every year, and next year we will celebrate differently, with a clearer focus.

How was your Christmas?  Mine was ok.
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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Seeking Him...

I've been thinking a lot about priorities lately.  For quite some time actually.


"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, 
and all these things shall be added to you."


How do we "seek His Kingdom first" and still get everything done here on earth?  That's been my question.  The answer I've come to is to line up my priorities..


Priority as defined by Webster is:
-superiority in rank, position, or privilege 
-a preferential rating; esp : one that allocates rights to goods and services usually in limited supply
-something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives

My goods and services are my time and attention and that time is almost always limited in supply.  

We all have the same 24 hours in each day, it's all in what we choose to allocate to that time.

I've always looked at things in list form when possible, just because that is the way my brain functions best.  So here is my list...it's one Chris and I came up with this summer as we put together a mission statement for our family.

First.  GOD.  
Seems obvious, but I've had seasons in life, when HE has slid down the list and before I know it, I've not had a good conversation with Him in weeks.  Maybe busy-ness has taken over and there is a thick layer of dust that has settled on my Bible.

I have chosen to make HIM my first priority.  Daily.  This fall I was part of the Hello Mornings Challenge, with a Twitter accountability group.  It was great.  Every so often, if I didn't check in, someone came looking for me, and I returned the favor...it's a great community.

I see this as such a huge thing because not only am I starting my day right, with the Word and prayer, but I am modeling it for my teenagers, who believe me...are watching everything!

Second.  ME.
This may not seem quite as obvious.  And to be honest, I struggle with it.  It seems narcisitic to me to put emphasis and focus on me.  I'm not talking about perpetual shopping sprees, manicures and pedicures.  

I'm talking about health and exercise, creativity, reading, hobbies, etcThings I like to do.  


I'm trying very hard to make time for these things in my life.  It's hard, because as a mom, your needs get shoved to the back burner when other "more urgent" things need your attention.

BUT, if we aren't taking care of ourselves physically, what happens?  We get tired and sick.  What happens when we don't stretch our brains and our creativity, expanding our horizons?  We get overwhelmed and weary in the process.  C'mon moms...we have to look after ourselves before we are any use to those God has given us charge over. {preaching to myself here...}

Third. FAMILY. 
No matter how we shake it out, our family is our priority.  It's two-fold.  Our marriage and then our children.  If our marriage isn't strong and providing an example to our kids, then what?  And if we aren't sowing daily into the lives of our children, who will?

Fourth.  CHURCH.
This one gets a little fuzzy for me, as I work at the church, so I spend a lot more time in the church than your average person.  But I'm coming to realize my view on this one has be askew...I've seen the church as a building.  Because that's what we call it...the church.  

But Jesus - whenever He went anywhere said, "the Kingdom of God is at hand..."  We carry Him, so shouldn't the church go with us?  When we go to the store or the library, shouldn't the church go too?

Now, we operate as usher, trustee, security, Sunday school teacher, and life group leaders, on top of my administrative position, so we have some influence on people's lives.  That's the church I'm really referring to here.  

Fifth.  WORK.
Again, the fuzziness, because of the working at the church thing.  But, my husband owns a business, and that needs attention.  He needs to spend time working the business...you because we like to eat and stuff.  And I am working this blog thing.

But what happens if work/blog rises to the top of the list?  Would that be at the expense of family time? or church responsibilities?  There are seasons, don't get me wrong, when work rises to the top for a short time because of special circumstances.  But it shouldn't be the norm.

Sixth.  EVERYTHING ELSE.
I don't get here very often.  Not really sure what qualifies, except for those things that don't fit anywhere else.  Basically if it doesn't fit in the other categories, then it's probably not going to get a whole lot of attention.

Those are my thoughts.  With two teens, a small business, and tons of commitments, I've really had to put things in perspective so as to not get out of balance in any direction.


Tell me - do you struggle with priorities and balancing your world?


Honored to be Linking up with:

Wifey Wednesday
WIP Wednesday
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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday Community {12/2/12}



Then Jesus spoke to them again, 
saying, “I am the light of the world. 
He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, 
but have the light of life.”
John 8:12

Photo Credit:  Anna with her iphone at Niagara Falls

Linking up with Jumping Tandem

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Savor 7 Saturday {12/1}

It's Saturday once again, only now it is also December!  How on earth can that be?  This has been one crazy week, and not all of it good, so I've really been looking forward to recounting my "7".  Won't you join me?

Scripture:
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

Storyteller:  This week I want to share a new site with you.  Amanda at Royal Daughter Designs, is awesome!  She is currently helping with a few changes to my little blog here.  But aside from that, she wrote a great post this week on blogging purpose.  It's a post that has really gotten me thinking as I determine where to take my little space here in the blogosphere in 2013.

Social: I didn't do a whole lot of socializing this week.  Unless of course you count the doctor's offices, physical therapy office and schools.  Yep, it's been that kind of week...

Silly: I'm quite certain there were some silly things that happened this week, but for the life of me I can't think of any.  Sad huh?

Snapshot:  Anna attended her first Quincinera.  Her favorite friend turned 15, and tradition said she have this awesomely big party with lots of people, food, and well, tradition.  She had a great time.  Check out the photo of what she wore....she loves to get all dolled up!


Sips:  Today I decided to veer from my favorite flavor at DD and try the mew peppermint mocha.  It was ok.  I'll have to try it again just to be sure though....

Sweets:  I ended up making a second batch of cranberry relish last weekend as well as another loaf of gluten-free pumpkin bread!!

How about you - what awesome things do you have to be thankful for this week?
Have a fabulous week!

Lori
Linking up with Lisa at Savor 7 Saturday

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Savor 7 {11/25/12}

Savor 7 Saturday turned into Savor 7 Sunday for me this week.  
I'm joining Lisa over here as we count our blessings and savor them...

Scripture:  
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.  
Psalm 118:1

Storyteller:  Have you ever met Joy at Grace Full Mama?  Her blog is truly a joy to read! Head on over there and take a look see.

Social:  With this being Thanksgiving week and all, you would think we would have had lots of social stuff to include.  Not so.  We spent this week here at home instead of traveling.  Though I love seeing everyone and spending time together, it was really nice to have a quiet day with just us. 


Silly:  My favorite little man turned two on Thanksgiving day!  It's SO funny to see the changes in just a few days.  He's getting so big so fast!  This is a shot of him at his birthday party...

Snapshot:  Here we have our very first Gluten Free Thanksgiving Dinner.  Now that all of us are doing our best to eat gluten free (some are doing better than others) I had to try and make the adjustments!  The stuffing and pie crust were the biggees..

Sips:  I'm still enjoying Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Spice...I know I'm on borrowed time with them, but I did notice that a few stores are selling the pumpkin spice coffee grounds.....hmmm mmmm...

Sweets:  One of our favorite dishes this week was our Cranberry Pear Relish.  We love it so much I made a second batch yesterday.....

So, that is my story in a nutshell this weekend after Thanksgiving!  How about you - what are you savoring?

Have a Blessed Week!!

Lori
Linking up with Lisa at Savor 7 Saturday


Sunday


Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Psalm 118:1
 
Linking up with Jumping Tandem



Friday, November 16, 2012

Stay...No, Go!

It's been over four years she's been here.  Last week she got her paperwork to finally go home.  

I'm so incredibly happy for her I can't stand it, but at the same time, everything in me is screaming "No, Stay!  You aren't really leaving are you?"  

She has grown so much.  Her faith is so big now.  She blesses my heart.  I've learned so much just watching her handle this season of her life. 


I know how much I'll miss her, but then I think of her son who is 10 now.  He's been four years without his mama there.  Four school years started and ended.  Four holiday seasons.  Four years... I just can't imagine it.  They talk daily.  She is incredibly involved in the daily goings on.  But she's not there.  

She told me yesterday that her son is super excited to introduce her to all of his friends, because they don't believe that she's real...four years will do that...

My flesh screaming "Stay!"

My heart is saying, "Go! Go home!  Be a mama to that sweet boy...in the flesh...right there, for the daily hugs and kisses, the teachable moments, and all that goes along with it.  

Go my friend, Go..."

Lori 

Honored to be Linking up with:
Five Minute Friday

Fellowship Friday 





Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cold & Flu Season Strategy

Oh Man!  It's that time of year...cold and flu season.  With kids in school and crazy everyday schedules, the probability of contracting something goes up...way, way up.

Given the "crazy" of the last 8 weeks, it's nothing short of a miracle that my family has only had minor encounters with colds and viruses.  I am tremendously thankful for this.

Prayer.
I have spent more time praying - especially over the kids as they head off to school each day.  I find myself praying God's protection over their whole being - that no flu, virus, bacteria or accident would come near their temple.  God's Word declares in Isaiah 54:17 that...

"No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the Lord."

I'm taking this very seriously! 

I also credit our good health fortune this fall season to a few home remedies that I have worked diligently to maintain on a daily basis.  Here they are...


Vitamin C.  And lots of it.
When one of us is feeling "something coming on" I start the vitamin c and zinc.  A nurse friend informed me last winter that at the first sign of a cold, take vitamin c and a zinc lozenge several times a day.  So we do.  Nobody likes it, because the taste is less than pleasant, but it seems to work.  We do this several times a day - like 3-4 times a day until the symptoms subside.  Let me just add here - this has to be done at the first sign of symptoms...don't ask me why, but it does.

Elderberry Syrup.
I'm not sure where I first found this idea, but I've used it sporadically for a couple of winters now.  But this fall I decided to go all in and keep the kids and I on it daily.  About 2 tsps. in the morning. No biggee.

Then, when someone feels "something coming on" I bump it up to the Echinacea-added variety and increase the number of doses a day to say 3-4.

Here is my recipe for Elderberry Syrup...again, I'm not sure where I got it from, and I've tweeked it a bit, but if you search Elderberry Syrup you will get a ton of different options.

Apple Cider Vinegar.
This is something new I discovered.  The wonders of ACV!  I have personally added this to my daily routine, to combat headaches.  I am very prone to sinus headaches, and the ACV is known to thin out the mucus so that it doesn't clog up the sinuses and cause the headaches and infections.  I take about 8 ounces of water with 1-2tsp of ACV and some agave once or twice a day.  It seems to help as the headaches have definitely been less frequent.

A couple of times this fall, colds have tried to set in and I've given the kids the ACV a couple times a day and they seem to be better in a few days.

I've also been giving Anna ACV every morning - to help combat the skin issues she deals with, so she's been getting the added benefit as well.  Here is a site I found that lists the many health benefits of ACV - Natural Healing Home Remedies.  

These along with plenty of rest, lots of hydration and exercise has been what has helped keep us healthy this fall.

How about you?  What are your cold/flu preventative measures?

Lori
**Please note - I am not a health professional, only a Mom trying to keep her family healthy without frequent trips to the doctor's office.**

 
Honored to be Linking up with:
New Life Steward - WIP Wed 
Women Living Well







Elderberry Syrup

Ingredients:
 
1/4 cup dried Elderberries
2 Tbsp dried Rose Hips
2 Tbsp dried Echinacea (optional)
¾ tsp dried Ginger Root OR ½ Tbsp fresh Ginger Root, grated (store in freezer)
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 cup Filtered Water
1/4 cup Raw Honey

1 – Put everything but the honey in a small saucepan.
2 – Bring to a boil, then let the herbs simmer uncovered for 20-30 min. 
The water will reduce by half at this time.
3 – Pour the mixture through a mesh strainer in a bowl. 
Press the mixture to squeeze out any extra juice.  Discard the herbs.
4 – Let the syrup cool in the bowl until you can touch it.
5 – Add 1/4 cup of raw, local if possible, honey and stir well.
6 – Store in a glass container in the refrigerator.  Should last up to two months.

Yield:  Approximately ½ cup, so doubling is a good idea if you’ll use more in a short period of time.

Dosage:  Children take 1-2 tsp a day  =>  when sick, 2 tsp
               Adults take 1-4 tsp a day  =>  when sick, 3-4 tsp

**Note: I am not a health professional, only a Mom trying to help her family stay healthy with out frequent trips to the doctor's office. **

Friday, November 9, 2012

Quiet

I don't often get quiet.

It's hard you know? With the hustle and bustle of life and kids and work and church and everything that pulls for our attention.  

It's hard to get quiet.

But when we do, the effects are tremendous.

In the quiet we can...
...rest 
...listen to that still small voice
...hear what is being said

These are all things we are limited in doing when we are caught in the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Daily life isn't bad, it's just got that element of crazy.  

And it's hard to hear.

I want more quiet.

I'm learning to work it in to 
my schedule more often and more effectively.

How about you - how do you build more quiet into your life?

Lori 

Honored to be Linking up with:
Five Minute Friday
Fellowship Friday 



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Balance of Intake & Outflow

It's quiet here tonight. Everyone is at church - Chris is on security and the kids are all at Youth Group.

I probably should have stayed for Bible Study. That probably would have been the right thing to do.
But I just feel so full right now.

So much so that if I take in one more teaching my brain may explode.  In the last month I've attended Quitter with Jon Acuff, a Deliverance seminar at church, watched the keynote speakers from Allume on video, attended a full weekend of guest speakers at our church last weekend which also included a Women's Breakfast attended by 170 women! That doesn't include my Hello Mornings, Bible in 90 Days, Reading / Lesson Prep for Life group next week, a book review, and 31 18 days of Practice, all of which I tried to keep up with in October.


I'm tired.  And I'm full.  And I just couldn't take in one more teaching right now.

Do you ever feel that way sometimes - full?  Like if you hear one more teaching... Or worse yet, if you don't get some of it out, you'll positively explode?

I know we're supposed to study and increase in knowledge, etc...
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15
I get it.
 
But is there a point at which enough is enough already? 

At what point should we consider our tank full and begin to release that which has been released to us? 

I'm at that point I think.  I have put or rather, God has poured so much into me recently that I am needing to get some of it out. 

"And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh."  Ecclesiastes 12:12
It is wearisome in some ways.  Isn't it?  Do you ever feel that way?  Filled to overflowing and yet struggling to get it out at the same time? 

Am I saying study is bad? Oh no I'm not. 

What I'm searching for right now is the balance of intake and outflow. How much to take in and what/when to release it.

That's it...it's balance.  My scales are out of balance. I need to spend some time processing what I've taken in so that I can release it. I need to process my notes from the various events, finish that lesson, write that book review, and move forward in a continual motion - inflow and outgo.  

I don't feel I can take anymore in, because I'm so full. The remedy to that is to pour out that which I have taken in

Of course - it's a process.  Oh my.  
I've been so busy I couldn't even see this simple truth. 

Lori

Honored to be Linking up with:
New Life Steward - WIP Wed
Women Living Well

Friday, November 2, 2012

Roots that go deep

Please note: This is not our land, but I did take the photo this fall...

When we moved to our house 7 years ago, the landscape looked very different than it does today.  The main thing missing is a huge old evergreen tree that stood in the front yard...all of the front yard.  My man and I wanted that tree gone from the day we moved in, and the next year, we did it.  We took it out.  It was not healthy, so it was a good thing to remove it.

But what I didn't comprehend was the root system.  I had no idea how shallow those roots ran.  Chris put a chain around that big old tree and hooked it to his truck and "pop" out came this huge tree.  And I thought, "Wow! That huge tree can thrive all these years on that shallow root system....amazing!"

Today I thought about that.  I want to be like that tree and then again, I don'tI want to grow big and tall in the things of God, but I want my roots to go deep, not be all shallow.  I want to know that the least little tug or pull isn't going to uproot me or my family.  We see this happening.  This is the longest we have lived in any one place since we married almost 18 years ago.  Nomads we were...moving 9 times in 8 years I think...I'll have to check that fact with Anna...they were her first 8 years.

But at the same time, I find myself wanting to be movable like that tree - ready to move, when we hear the Voice of the Lord leading us here or there.  I don't want to be so stuck - so rooted that I miss what He has for us, even if that means moving, again.
He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber. 
Psalm 121:3


Lori 

Honored to be Linking up with:
Five Minute Friday
Fellowship Friday 


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Determined Abandon


Okay, so there was this little conference last weekend.  You may have heard of it - Allume.  Well, I didn't go...big bummer, but you can bet I'm already praying about next year!  

I was however able to catch the keynote speakers because the wonderful people at Teach Them Diligently offered them in their entirety.  I have yet to listen to Ann Voskamp's, mainly because of that silly little thing called time, but I wanted to share one of my take-aways from Problogger - Darren Rowse's keynote.

Darren did a great job of lacing blogging gems throughout his testimony, things like the idea of following "sparks" -  those seemingly "little things" that happen, that if we act fast, could produce great results, and if not, we may miss something very special.  He gave several examples in the area of blogging and community, but my takeaway was for life in general - my walk.

How many times, oh Lord help us, but how many times do we miss opportunities at the grocery store or the dry cleaner because we are in a rush to get to the "next thing"?  Maybe it's just a smile that will "spark" a conversation in the meat department that could lead to someone finding some peace - the Prince of Peace in their life storm.  I've seen it happen - when I'm looking.

That was awesome, and I'm still chewing on it, trying to absorb the bigness of it, but his final story was just as powerful. 

Darren told this crazy story about being in a cafe and eating an extra large slice of  mudcake. With a Fork.  Nearby, a little girl got the same {extra-large} size piece of mudcake and she ate it...face first.  She went after that thing.  She wanted it, probably looked forward to it all day, and by golly she went after it.

I could totally picture the whole story in my mind's eye as Darren is a great story teller.

His charge with that story was that we "put the fork down" and pursue God with the same gusto as that little girl. 

He used John 6:57 as a text...
As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.
Darren also explained that "feeds" in this passage means "feasts"...big difference.

Immediately, I was reminded of something someone said to me awhile back.  

"We should pursue God with determined abandon."

Determined abandon.  What does that mean?   

Determined = resolute, staunch, decided, settled, resolved
Abandon = to give up control of; to yield oneself without restraint or moderation

God really is trying to get my attention, and maybe yours too... He's saying that we need to let go of our preconceived ideas.  Take the lid off of the box that we've put Him in and make a decision to "put the fork down" and follow HIM wholly, completely, without restraint.  Just follow Him, wherever He leads...it may seem crazy at times, but I for one don't want to live so reserved, that I miss the "sparks" or opportunities that He may have for me.

Thank you Darren for your inspiration!  Even though I wasn't in the room, I received the impartation!  You can be sure of that!

There was so much more I gleaned, but I am focusing, really focusing on these nuggets for now.  I want to get it right.   

I don't want to miss those little sparks of opportunity anymore.  

I'm putting the fork down...
Lori 

Honored to be Linking up with:
New Life Steward - WIP Wed
Women Living Well
Allume 
that I joined for the month of October.


 

Friday, October 26, 2012

My Voice

I actually listened to my own voice yesterday on a recording.  It sounded crackly and squeeky and even little girlish.  But it sounded real, and full of the love it was delivering.  You see, I was ministering to a woman, and we recorded it, like we do every first Friday night of the month at church.  There are a team of us, and we minister.  We love the people, we share what is on the Father's heart with them, and we record it for them to have later.

But my voice.  I couldn't help but hear those qualities..squeeky, crackly, young girlish.  But when I listened, I heard the love I was sharing ~  The love the Father had for that woman.  I don't know her.  I may never see her again, but I was honored to share His love with her that night.

That's my desire here....To share His love with you...my friends.

And honestly, sometimes, well, most times really, I feel squeeky and crackly.  But my heart is only to share Him.  To share the  abundance of what He's done for me and mine.  

His love.  His grace.  His mercy.  Him...

That's the voice I desire.  Not only in this big ole blogosphere, but here...in real life...

Lord, please use my voice...
Lori

  Honored to link up with a wonderful mob of writers over at
Gypsy Mama's Five Minute Friday!


that I joined for the month of October.