Tree branch silhouette with half moon

Managing in the Middle

Tree branch silhouette with half moon

Are you feeling stuck in the middle of anything right now?

Starting something new can be exhilarating and motivating, finishing can be a celebration and a relief, but what about life in the middle?

When you think about it, most of life is spent somewhere in the “middle”.

Just think about middle children for a minute. Not always, but often they can feel lost or have trouble finding their place in a family. They don’t necessarily have the expectations of being the responsible oldest child, nor the easy-going or fun personality of the youngest, yet they are created especially wonderful just where they are. Perhaps being in the middle frees us from expectations; what if we could just rest and be ourselves?

Being in the middle can be challenging. It can be mundane or boring, or on the other end of the spectrum, it can be difficult and stressful.

But what if we could relax and let God lead and provide for us right here in the middle?

I’d like to share a song with you that has really spoken to me, especially in some of those “middle” times.

 

 

It can be messy in the middle. Sometimes it feels so difficult and we feel we don’t have the strength to go on. Other times we feel we’ve lost our vision or our purpose and don’t feel motivated. We may even feel depressed.

I’m trying to learn that being in the middle is just where God wants us to be right now. I’m learning to trust him and his plan, to lean on him for strength, and to run to him for comfort.

I want my life to be a blessing, not only in the exciting new times or in the fulfilling finishing times, but right here in the middle.

Won’t you join me?

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This post was written for Five Minute Friday, where you can join us at the link-up to read other quick, mostly unedited writings of other bloggers.

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If you enjoyed this song, you can purchase it here:

 

 

Coffee, candle, pumpkin on table

What Am I Choosing to Collect?

Today’s post is written for Five Minute Friday, a fun and inspirational link-up with many other bloggers who write for five minutes, unedited, on a given prompt.

(Confession time: I’m working on sticking to the five minute, unedited “rule”, imperfectly, but have grown towards these goals as a “recovering perfectionist”. That’s one of the reasons I chose to participate in this weekly challenge.)

Today’s prompt is, “collect”. I hope you are encouraged or inspired, too.

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Coffee, candle, pumpkin on table

 

What am I choosing to collect?

A life is full of collections, some of physical things, such as stones, shells, books, stamps, jewelry, coffees or mason jars.

But every day we are collecting things we cannot see.

What am I choosing to collect … emotionally, mentally, even spiritually?

I often make poor choices (or automatic, it seems), to collect regrets, discontent, complaints, stress, grief, hurt or negativity.

But I wish to collect something better, a collection of unseen gifts that I can share through my life with those around me, and pass on to my family and future generations.

With God’s help, I would rather be intentional about collecting good things.

I choose to collect thankfulness, cheerfulness, peace, happy memories, good thoughts, positive words, grace … simple treasures that I wish to keep.

I do have a choice as to what I collect.

 

” And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” 

– Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)

 

 

We can make a positive impact on our own lives, and of those around us.

 

 

” The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.

– 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (MSG)

 

 

What are you choosing to collect?

*****

 

 

misc. items at home

Created to Create

misc. items at home

 

Create……

The word conjures up images of fine art and music and accomplishments for which most of us feel rather unqualified.

But what if we used whatever gifts we were given to create whatever it is that we were designed to do?

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Ephesians 2:10

 I believe that we were all created by a loving, creative God, and given gifts and talents to do many creative things.

“I’m not creative” , you may be saying to yourself.

But I think that we all have very different areas of creativity.

Some are gifted to do obviously creative works in art, music or drama.

But what about creating a beautiful home, or a “lived-in”, but loving home? How about creating a family atmosphere where our children can grow to become who God intended them to be?

What about creating a thriving business, a cure for cancer, an inspiring book, a delicious recipe, a system for organizing?

We can create a place for people to learn, get healthy or become connected.

Don’t forget to think outside the box when it comes to what you can create.

God created you with just the right strengths and talents to do what you were meant to do.

Now get on out there and be creative!

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I’m linking up today with some wonderful folks at Five Minute Friday. Please join me over there to view some other ideas about today’s prompt, “create”.

 

30 Day Pilates Body Challenge

I Can’t Resist Sharing This Ten-Minute Pilates Challenge With You!

30 Day Pilates Body Challenge

Care to Join Me?

OK. I wasn’t going to do this, but I simply can’t resist!

It’s already Day #3, but I’d still like to invite you to join me for this 30 Day Pilates Body Challenge hosted by my new friend, Robin Long.

You see, I don’t know Robin, but after just a couple of days, she seems like a kind friend. She is an encouraging coach for this wonderful Pilates exercise challenge for the month of March! If you chose to join us and sign up for the challenge, she will send you a motivating email each day this month, along with a ten-minute daily Pilates workout video to complete. In case you think that ten minutes isn’t enough, I suggest you listen to her comments on that idea, here.

The emails are brief, but filled with encouragement not only to do the exercises, but also to create other healthy habits along with the exercises. So far, Robin has also encouraged us to have an accountability partner, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and to chose another goal in partnership with the workouts this month.

This 30 Day Challenge is all free, but if you want more, you can explore her Pilates subscription service, which can be purchased for a small monthly fee. It offers even more support, including new monthly workouts, missions, recipes and membership to her private “Sisterhood.”

Here are some fun (not exactly breathtaking) photos I’ve already shared on Facebook to mark and celebrate my success. And I must not forget that we are also encouraged to share and support one another on social media, including an encouraging, private Facebook page for those of us participating in this 30 Day Challenge.

Pilates, mat, workout

Day #1 complete (with cat).

Pilates video, water, cats

Day #2 completed, although the cats didn’t move a bit. Drinking water on side table.

Pilates workout, bridge pose, checking in

Day #3 slightly awkward “bridge pose” photo….just checking in.

Prayer & Bible reading, Exercise (Pilates & other), Drink water, "Me" time (read, photos, blog).

Day #3 – My personal goals for this month.

I’ll end by sharing my additional personal goals for this month. We were only asked to chose one, but mine’s a package deal of some daily basics:

  • Prayer & Bible reading
  • Exercise (Pilates challenge plus indoor or outdoor walks)
  • Drink enough water
  • Do something fun for ME each day (read; take or work on photos; work on blog)

These are priorities that I would like to do consistently every day, creating a life-long habit of self-care. This is one challenge that will help me to flourish!

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So, how about it? Can you commit to just ten minutes of Pilates a day for this month? Have you always wanted to try Pilates, but just needed a little push? Perhaps you could share this challenge with someone you think may also benefit. Please let me know if you sign up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bible, journal and tea

This One’s For Your Spirit

 

Bible, journal and tea

Quiet Time

Hi friends! This year I’ve been enjoying finding and sharing various ways that we can make positive changes in our lives, and it’s never too late to start. First I shared about a 91 Day Declutter Challenge, then suggested another way to tackle several differnt changes in a 12 Mini Goals Challenge .

Today I’m really excited to share a challenge for your spirit! I was intending on discussing the benefits of the Bible App and YouVersion, and low and behold, they are staring a 21-day challenge tomorrow, February 1st, 2016!

So what better time to jump right in and check it out!

Do you ever struggle with wanting to read your Bible or do a study every day, but you just don’t always know where to start, what book or verses to read, or how to go about it in a practical way? Sometimes these obstacles can even distract us from spending any time in the Word at all!

I’ve been using YouVersion for some time now, and really enjoy and find it useful. You can sign up for the Verse-of-the-Day, read Bible verses and passages and share them with “friends” (with whom you link up, similar to Facebook), even make beautiful and impacting verse images on your mobile device to share on social media, and one of my favorites, chose and participate in one of numerous and varied Bible devotional plans.

Our church is one of many who provide the option of using The Bible App to follow along with the Sunday message and even take notes.

And the wonderful thing is these helpful tools are all free.

Let me tell you a little more about the plans YouVersion has to offer.

There are many, many interesting topics to chose from, with commitments from as short as three days to as long as a whole year. Each day includes a thought-provoking reading, a Scripture verse (or verses) or one or more passages to read, and usually a prayer. I really enjoyed one particular plan that had an optional music accompaniment. I found it very a relaxing and worshipful addition to my quiet time.

You can chose a plan that suits your desires, needs and your schedule. There is even a setting called, “Catch Me Up”, so if you miss a day, you can continue on without a hitch. This just may be the best few minutes of your day!

This special challenge is provided to help us form a good habit of spending time in God’s Word and in prayer daily. To participate, you simply need to complete a day (or more) of one of the YouVersion Bible plans each day for twenty-one days. There will even be daily prizes and a grand prize to help motivate you even more.

So what have you got to lose???

There is EVERYTHING to gain!!!

Why not download The Bible App to your mobile device, or participate on your computer or laptop (as I mostly do), and start right away? Join me today!

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Have you ever tried YouVersion, The Bible App or subscribed to a verse-of-the-day? Have you found it helpful in your desire to spend time with God more regularly? If not, are you willing to give it a try? What sort of plan would interest you most?

 

 

 

 

Jessica Smith yoga exercise dvd

Let’s Eat an Elephant – another New Year (mini-) challenge

Jessica Smith yoga exercise dvd

Well, we’re three weeks in to the new year…..and how are those “resolutions” going?

According to this interesting article (written in 2013), although an impressive 40 % of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, only 8% actually achieve them.

But here’s an idea that’s a little more encouraging, from the American Psychological Association :

“Setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on January 1 can help you reach whatever it is you strive for,” says psychologist Lynn Bufka, PhD. “Remember, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is important and working toward it, one step at a time.”

Earlier this month, I mentioned my desire to share some worthwhile tools to help us with our goals, especially in the new year. There are many people sharing all sorts of wonderful ideas, challenges, courses, etc., in order to help us achieve new success in various areas of our lives. The best thing about the challenges I am sharing is that they are free.

Today I’d like to share a 12 Mini Goals Challenge from Emily at Morning Motivated Mom. Her idea is to focus on several small, manageable challenges, a new mini habit or goal each month. Emily is even including a nice printable to go along with each habit. I like it.

Here’s my chart as of yesterday (using my free printable from Morning Motivated Mom), for January’s exercise challenge. Notice I only started this on January 19th, but that’s OK, because it’s better to do something imperfectly, rather than nothing at all. Feel free to jump in, too.

There is a suggested new challenge for each month, but you can tweak her idea if a particular monthly goal doesn’t quite fit. This seems like a win-win challenge to me!

In my previous post, I shared that it’s more effective to make attainable goals, rather than just resolutions (with no practical goals or steps).

You’ve heard it said, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

So if you are still looking for encouragement to reach some new goals this year (or perhaps already feel like you’re “failing” at your existing 2016 New Year’s resolutions), why not join me and sign up for this valuable challenge?

So, really…..how ARE you doing at your goal-setting or habit-changing efforts so far this year? I’d love to hear of any successes or ideas you’d be willing to share.

Here’s to happy “elephant bites” in 2016!

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Buster the cat in donation box.

Make Goals – Not Resolutions (And a Declutter challenge.)

Buster the cat in donation box.

My cat Buster, all ready to go.

 

Have you recovered yet from all those pesky and guilt-provoking thoughts about New Year’s resolutions?

Although we’re almost far enough into January to be in the “safe zone”, if you’re like me, you really DO want to make changes in your life. As scary as it may seem, it is the only way to truly grow into the people that God made us to be, and to accomplish our purposes for being here.

I have been perusing blogs and other articles since New Year’s Day, thinking and praying about what changes I need to make this year in my life. If you’ve been reading my blog so far (the first three posts), you will know that my word for 2016 seems to be “Change”.

I shared how I especially find myself in a season of transition, and how I am purposing to embrace the good changes that God has for me.

In order to do that, though, I need some specific goals, and action steps which will help me to get there.

For so many years, I have felt like life was running me. Like a hamster in a running wheel, I have often felt overwhelmed just with getting “the basics” done. I’ve felt like much of my time has been spent trying to catch up or just to keep my head above water.

One of the goals I’m working on is to live my life more intentionally. I’m also learning to understand how keeping it simple plays am important role in the process.

I’d like to share some of this journey with you, and for January 2016, I wish to share with you some tools I’ve found that can help us to grow.

Now, don’t be tempted, as I have been, to try to join and accomplish ALL of these challenges. But if a particular suggestion sparks something in you and I can even help one person to live better this year, it will be worth my sharing.

Oh, yeah. It seems “too late” already, doesn’t it? I mean, most of you have already put away all your Christmas and New Year’s stuff and are getting back in the swing of “regular” life. And some of these challenges are already underway. It’s tempting to just forget about resolutions and change, and just get on with life’s routine.

May I implore and encourage you NOT to give up; to jump in whenever you can; it’s never too late!

ANY change, big or small, will be an improvement in your life and motivate you to continue to grow and make permanent changes.

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I don’t know about you, but the condition that causes THE MOST STRESS IN MY LIFE is clutter.

It affects everything I do, my thoughts and feelings about myself as a person and homemaker. It distracts, taunts and discourages me almost daily. It’s been a problem for me for years, and I’m ready to CHANGE the way I do things to ban clutter from my home!

I’ve even noticed it affects something as basic as attempting to take nice photos for my new blog…..because too often there is STUFF in the way!

Sure, I’ve made baby steps in this area, but if there is one thing I would like to change most in my life FOR GOOD this year, it’s to deal with my clutter!

The first step is to DECLUTTER.

I anticipate some future posts on how to create better systems to prevent clutter in the first place. But we have to start somewhere.

Here’s one of the best challenges I’ve come across so far, and I’ve decided to jump in!

Check out this 91 Day Declutter Challenge and see if it’s for you.

Remember, you DO NOT have to do this perfectly!

In fact, as I began to investigate the challenge, my enthusiasm was quickly followed by discouragement, almost causing me to ditch the whole thing. But realizing how important this is to me, even though I won’t do it every day nor completely this time around, I have committed to the effort to do what I can.

There is even a Facebook group to join, where you can both share your photos and experiences and encourage others in the process. I have to say, I’ve been amazed at the level of kindness and encouragement of group members on this page! I encourage you to dive in and join the page, as well. You won’t regret it.

This is already Week #2 of the 91 Day Declutter Challenge, but as you will quickly see, it’s OK to start now, wherever you’re at, and do what you can in your real life situation.

Week #1 (last week) was focused on our laundry room areas.

Here are some photos I shared on the Facebook page last week:

 

2016-01-06 18.23.24

Decluttering my buffet & hutch…stuff I’m getting rid of…except for the cat. 🙂

 

(Please excuse the quality of the pictures, which were quickly taken on my little tablet for expediency. You get the idea, though.)

 

2016-01-06 23.26.13

Newly organized and back to where it was over ten years ago. 🙂

 

But WAIT…..that’s NOT the laundry room!

RIGHT! Get it???

I did what I could; what I had to do, in order to get my packages out of the door the next morning for a scheduled donation pick-up (one way to help force yourself to declutter). Over the holidays, I had already noticed several items in this cupboard that I’ve been holding onto for over twenty years! I even had little teacups (the ones we “modern” coffee drinkers don’t use any more), from not one, but TWO sets of dishes that I didn’t even own any more!

So I proceeded on “laundry room week” to declutter my buffet and hutch area, as well as some miscellaneous items that I had noticed around the house.

I even dared to share these photos on the designated Facebook page, even though I wasn’t on the “right” room.

To my pleasant surprise, I was SO encouraged and motivated in the process. I donated two large boxes and two large bags of dishes and other miscellaneous stuff I collected around my home. And I decided that I needed to share this with you!

I plan to continue this challenge, even though I won’t do it perfectly. It’s a great start for me on my process to decluttering my home.

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When my boys were little, I remember watching a children’s video (on a VHS tape), about Mouse and Mole.  Am I the only one who is often spoken to by teachings designed for children?

Anyway, the two friends, Mouse and Mole, live together with opposite personality traits. In this particular episode, they attempt to clean one room in their house, and succeed…….only to find they’ve deposited all of the stuff into another room instead.

Here are the words that have stayed with me to this day. It may have been intended for children, but it’s truth for all ages:

“You can have stuff or you can have space,” Mouse advises. “You can’t have both.”

What would you rather have, “stuff” or “space”?

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