Friday, July 31, 2015

2015 Goals: July Updates

July was a busy month, with camps for my daughters and travel for all of us.  I didn't do very well with staying on track with my yearly goals this month.

1.  Read through the Bible in 100 days. 

2.  Write a new, very specific prayer list for my husband and my children at the beginning of each month.  Done in July.

3.  Spend one hour with each daughter each month doing an activity that she likes to do.  I had a shopping outing with each girl while the other one was at camp.

4.  Send a note or e-mail of encouragement to someone every week.  I did this two weeks in July.  One of the notes I wrote was to the OBGYN who was my doctor during my pregnancy with our anencephalic baby, as well as with our older daughter, and during my miscarriage.  He retired 12 years ago, but I was able to find his address as he still lives nearby.  I was thrilled to get a note back from him and glad to hear that he is doing well.

5.  Complete my reading plan each month.  Done in July.

6.  Exercise for 25 minutes a day, 4 times a week.   I totally missed this in July.  I fit in a bit of exercise here and there, but our schedule was different every single week, so I wasn't at all consistent about it.

7.  Eat at least 3 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.  See number 6....

 8.  Complete Copyblogger's collection of 15 ebooks and implement 5 changes to my blog by June 30.  Still need to follow through on making 3 other changes to my blog.

How are you doing with your goals?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

6 Books I Read in July


This is the third month in a row that I've read six books, so that must be a reasonable goal for me.

Here's what I read from my list this month.

Spiritual: In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson. Mark challenges readers to face their fears with God's help and seize the opportunities He sends our way to do great things for Him.
Marriage When Sinners Say "I Do" - Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage by Dave Harvey.  I wasn't impressed with this book at first, but the more I read, the more I appreciated the author's premise.  We are all sinners, so in order to make our marriages work, the same traits that God extended to us in salvation - forgiveness, mercy, and grace - must dominate our relationship with our spouse.
ParentingWhen More Is Not Enough:  How to Stop Giving Your Kids What They Want and Give Them What They Need by Amy L. Sullivan.  The theme of this book is helping your kids develop a giving spirit and training them to focus on the needs of others rather than their own gratification.
Personal GrowthI'm Happy for You (Sort of...Not Really):  Finding Contentment in a Culture of Comparison by Kay Wills Wyma.  You can read my full review of this book here.

I read two other books in June.

Styling Faith:  The Complete Style Guide by Catherine E. Storing.  This book had some interesting information on women's dress, makeup, hair care, fitness, and nutrition, but the e-book version I read had some grammatical and formatting issues that somewhat distracted from the content.

Injustice for All by Robin Caroll.  This was one of my fiction reads for our Boston trip...that I started and finished before we ever left.

Here are the books I hope to read in August.

SpiritualThe Sovereignty of God by Arthur Pink
Marriage:  What Did You Expect?  Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp
ParentingRaising Great Kids:  A Comprehensive Guide to Parenting with Grace and Truth by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
Personal GrowthEat, Move, Sleep:  How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes by Tom Rath

What have you been reading lately?

Monday, July 27, 2015

What Was, What Is, What Is To Come

It was twenty-four years ago today that we said, "I do."

An overcast, slightly drizzly day, filled with the colors of baby-blue bridesmaid dresses, bow ties, and cummerbunds; the gold church pews; the white reception tents on the green grass outside the brick church building.  The faces were those of grandparents now passed on to heaven, dad conducting our ceremony, mom as mistress of ceremonies, brothers, sisters, extended family, friends, dear ladies of the church presiding at our reception.

The scene changes to that first two-bedroom townhouse apartment nearly devoid of furniture, first blue two-door Honda hatchback, first jobs, first fights.  We navigated the hills and valleys of married life, from your serious illness to the loss of our baby, job changes to the joys of children born strong and healthy, a move to North Carolina and back.

All that has brought us to what is.  You and I, parents of a teen and tween, navigating new waters nearly every week.  We're not as fit as we used to be, our bodies speaking in occasional creaks and groans, responding more slowly than in those "what was" years.  The wrinkles and laugh lines have appeared, the hair color has changed, the eyesight's not what it once was.  The outside of our love may look different, but the inside love has grown and flourished and strengthened over the years.

God willing, that love will carry us through what is to come.  In my mind's eye, I see the excitement of high school graduation and college days for our daughters, their weddings, our grandchildren.  I feel you holding my hand through difficult partings, physical failings, and life's ever unexpected moments.

My prayer for what is to come goes something like this.

Dear God, Grow us ever into Your image.  May the love we share be an example to our children and a blessing to others because it comes from You.  Knit our hearts even more tightly together.  Give us the grace to face what the coming years bring and the strength to carry out your perfect will for us as a couple.  Thank you for the home You began twenty-four years ago, and may we glorify You through whatever the future holds.

Happy anniversary, my dear sweetheart!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer Update



It seems to be that life is a lot about change these days.  Summers even have a different feel as our girls are getting older and I try to find the right balance between keeping them busy, yet giving them the down time they don't have during the school year.

Highlights of our summer so far are our annual trip to the Tennessee mountains with my extended family, a week of Vacation Bible School, a visit from my brother and his family, a week of church camp for our oldest daughter, and last week's "Safe Sitter" class that my younger daughter took at our local technical college.

Posting here on the blog will be sparse over the next few weeks as we fit in our other two trips of the summer, one of which is a long-anticipated vacation to Boston.  All four of us enjoy history, so it will be neat to walk the Freedom Trail and see many of the sites that played an important role in the founding of our nation.  It will also be the first time our girls have flown on an airplane...though I think they're a little nervous about that part of the trip!

Hope you're enjoying your summer!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Saturday Salutes

Kristen tells us 8 Ways We Make Parenting Harder (Than It Already Is).

Laura reminds us about the importance of All the Gifts.

Monica shares Birth Order:  What Middle Children Need Most from Their Parents.

Rachel lists the Benefits of Keeping a Prayer Journal.

This is an older post of Amanda's, but I love her 7 Great Things to Say to a Child Today.

We had two eggplant in our produce box last week, so I tried this Baked Eggplant recipe which turned out pretty well!  (Note that I didn't use the tomato, though I'm sure it would be good with the eggplant.  My husband recently had a bad experience with tomatoes, so it was best that I left them out of the recipe this time!)

Finally, I saw this adorable girls' denim skirt online this week.  You can find it and other similar styles at the Etsy shop Skirted Blues.

Girl's classic denim skirt!
Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Mourning the Loss of Innocence


A couple of nights ago, I had to explain to my 12-year-old daughter a term that I don't recall hearing myself until I was well into my teens, maybe even college age.

In the realm of the immoral and violent, children hear so much so soon these days.  I'm sure previous generations have said that, and it scares me to think what my grandchildren will be exposed to at young ages.

It makes me angry - but even more so, sad - that I have to talk to my girls about subjects that I wish they didn't have to know about until they had grown up a bit more.  Yet as parents, we can't be oblivious to what is happening around us, thinking that our kids won't hear those words or pick up on those concepts.

They will.

I consider our own children pretty sheltered, especially when it comes to the media we allow (or pretty much, don't allow) in our home.  But whether it's from friends (yes, Christian ones) or the news on the car radio or the song lyrics playing over the store's speaker system, they are vulnerable to hearing and seeing less-than-desirable words and actions.

We're trying to be proactive in dealing with these topics with our daughters without giving them more information than they need...a delicate balance.  Here are a few principles I'm trying to follow as we work our way through this.

  • Keep the lines of communication open.  I think this is so important.  If you know they've heard something they probably don't understand, talk about it.  (We've had questions from our children prompted by something a pastor mentioned in a sermon.)  I have one child who asks me about things, while I have to take the initiative with the other one. If you don't know if they understand what something means, ask them to explain it to you.  Sometimes this is, as one of my daughters put it, "awkward," but you want them to hear the truth from you.
  • Always be honest.  That doesn't mean you have to give unnecessary details, but let them know as much as you think they can handle.
  • Explain things on an age-appropriate level.  What may have been a two-sentence conversation with my five-year-old has become a much longer discussion with my 14-year-old.
  • Use God's Word.  Explain why what you're discussing is sinful based on Scripture.
  • Pray, pray, pray.  Ask God to protect your children from evil and to give you wisdom and sensitivity when these situations arise.

We want to keep our children's hearts and minds as pure and innocent as we can for as long as we can.  With God's help, we can give our children a strong, loving home where they feel comfortable talking to us and know that they will be given truth.

I'm definitely still feeling my way through this area of parenting.  Let me know if you have any advice along these lines!

Monday, July 13, 2015

5 Ways That Daily Quiet Time with God Changes Me

If there's such a thing as getting up on the wrong side of the bed, that's what I did yesterday.  I pretty much felt negative about everything that came up during the morning....and this was on a Sunday!!  How thankful I am for a God who is faithful, longsuffering, and merciful!

Thankfully, I did take time to have my quiet time first thing in the morning.  I struggled with my attitude even after those moments of prayer and Bible reading, but God was able to convict my heart about my sin.

Some mornings I might think my time could be better spent getting a head start on my tasks for the day, but never could I find a better use for my moments than praying and getting into God's Word.

Here are five ways that my quiet time with God changes me.

1.  It gives me a spiritual focus.  Writing in my gratitude journal, reading a hymn story, praying for my family, and reading a portion of Scripture gives me, at least momentarily, an eternal perspective.

2.  It plants God's Word in my mind.  I've been studying the life of Moses lately.  Yesterday I read in Numbers 14:18 Moses' plea for the children of Israel in which he reminds God, "The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression...."  Even though I didn't apply that verse to my particular situation right away, it came back to my mind later in the day and encouraged me.

3.  It puts proper priorities into my day.  While having devotions early in the morning may not work for everyone, I find that I'm most likely to keep my "appointment" with God if I put it first in my day.

4.  It allows me to turn my day over to the Lord and leave my burdens with Him.  True, I may try to pick those same burdens up later in the day, but at least I start by seeking His guidance and trusting Him to undertake in my behalf.

5.  It gives me a truth to reflect on throughout the day.  Meditating on a verse - or even just a phrase - that I read can benefit me throughout the day You never know what God is preparing you for in the day ahead with the Scripture passage you read in the morning.

The fundamental disciplines of Bible reading and prayer are what help us grow daily in our walk with Christ.  How blessed we are to have His Holy Spirit to reveal truths from the Bible and to intercede for us as we pray!

In what way does quiet time with God change you?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Saturday Salutes


Well, it's been another busy week of summer!  We've had fun with just our younger daughter at home, but are very much looking forward to our oldest getting back from camp this afternoon.

Here are a few good posts from the past week.

Jon Acuff tells us How to Look Good on the Internet.

Sara reminds us to Keep Your Circle Broken:  When It's Hard Making Friends.

Crystal encourages in When You Feel Lonely and Left Out.

If, like me, you have extra zucchini in the refrigerator, try this Chocolate Zucchini Cake.  It was very moist and delicious!  I did make two changes to the recipe.  I increased the cocoa powder to half a cup and folded 1 cup of chocolate chips into the batter before pouring it into the pan to bake.  Mine was done in about 23 minutes.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!