Friday, February 28, 2014

Surveying Your Year

Closing In On Your Dreams and Goals

At the end of every month, I like to step back and survey where I'm at with my goals and vision for the year. I want to begin editing my next book next month, so I'm printing a PDF copy out today! Other than that, I feel like my goals have stalled. Not because I'm not eager to finish, but because I have so many things going on with running kids to their activities, my college classes, and church activities. Yesterday we talked about the importance of prioritizing. So I considered these things:

  • Am I making my writing and writing goals a priority? 
  • Have I been intentional about making time to write above other interests I have? 
  • Have I been making time for the Lord? 
  • Are His plans for me a major focus or am I running like wild horses going in all sorts of directions?
If you're like me, some areas you feel like you've got it all together. But others are lacking. So I made a list of things to remind me to focus on those things the Lord gave me a vision for so I can stay on track for closing in on my goals! 
Here's my list:


Thursday, February 27, 2014

But I'm Too Busy! One Word: Intentional

How to Intentionally Slow Down and Make More Time

It's just so mind-boggling at how busy I am now with my writing, college classes, church activities, Civil Air Patrol events and meetings, children's activities and events and the list goes on and on. But when did I get so busy? Every day is filled with something going on!
When I realized the next time I would be able to meet my sister for coffee might just be after Spring Break (she's a teacher!), it occured to me that it's not her busy schedule and demands of grading and lesson planning that were keeping us from having a weekly--or MONTHLY--coffee time; it was my fully cram-packed, something-going-on-daily, no-time-for-coffee busyness that hindered our sister time.
I know I need to slow down! So I had to take a step back, determine what things take priority in my life and my kids' lives, and make a plan. You know, we all are given the same 24 hours in which to work, meet, play, eat, and sleep. But what makes a tremendous difference is how we use our time. 
Many of us probably use a weekly or monthly schedule. Do you schedule time to meet with friends? For devotions? For yourself? I certainly didn't and now, I have to be intentional about making appointments, setting my schedule and getting the most out of my time with God, my family, my friends and of course myself.
What things are important to you? Do you schedule them on your calendar? How have you kept from becoming too busy? 


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Homeschool Hump Day Encouragement

Leading Children to Jesus

Recently a friend told me that she was told by her child's public school teacher didn't think her child knew the difference between reality and imagination and pretending. The teacher had apparently asked the child what he wanted to be when he grew up. The child's response was that he wanted to be a Transformer! At this point, I think it is necessary to mention that the 5 years old! The public school teacher dismissed his idea of a potential idea because it clearly did not fit her idea of a career when the child chose a career.
Now I remember when I was a young girl, I wanted to be Wonder Woman (I'm a 70s child!), my sister and I pretended to be Ponch and Jon (from the TV show CHiPs), I wanted to be a truck driver like BJ (BJ and the Bear), and I really had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. My point is, we all had unrealistic, non-reality based ideas of what we wanted to do as we grew older. Those child-like concepts are influenced by television shows often, but rarely has a child who wanted to be a super hero actually become one!
As we lead our children to the true "transformer," we can arrange for a real and meaningful knowledge of the Lord in their lives and introduce them to Jesus, our real super hero!
I wouldn't say feed the child's fascination necessarily, but definitely be more intentional with the transformer and saving grace of everyone and the Savior and super hero of us all--Jesus!


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tip Tuesday: Simplify

Our friends over at Organized Chaos Online have been sharing lots of ways of organizing and decluttering this year! One thing we need to remember is that simplifing is the KEY!

I like this tip especially because it says to "live intentionally." Intentional is my One Word for the year, so it is a good challenge for me to be intentional in what I am keeping, throwing out, and giving away to charities like Salvation Army, Disabled Veterans and Goodwill.
As you go through each room in your house throughout the month of March, be intentional about getting rid of the clutter in your home and your life. Decide what is important and live intentionally!


Monday, February 24, 2014

Ecclesiastes: 8 Weeks of Discovering Time

To Everything...

I am reading through Ecclesiastes chapter 3 for the next 8 weeks. You've probably heard the Scripture or no doubt the famous song. But I wanted to research and explore more about this important and timely (pun intended!) Word from the Lord.
This week I'm looking at Ecclesiastes 3:1:
To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.

I've been thinking about the seasons we go through in life. For me, I went through a season of living life as a victim before I chose to be a victor, briefly of teenage and single parenthood, then I became a wife and went through a season of littles that I was homeschooling. I went through a season of depression that with the Lord's help I was able to snap out of, and now I enter a new season of being friends with my adult children and being a grandmother to their children!
Some of the things I went through were based on decisions I made myself that strayed from the paln God had for me. They took me off course, but the Lord is faithful and worked even my failures for good and to get me back on the original path He had for my life.
One thing I realize now is that because I went through certain things in my life, I am able to offer compassion and understanding, true understanding, of the situations other women are faced with. I can offer them hope through the redeeming power of the Lord and show them that living their lives wholly for the Lord can and will turn their negative experiences into good, too.
When I look back, I can see that there was a purpose for me going through the many things I have because God has always had a purpose for me and my life!


Friday, February 21, 2014

Reaching Your Goals

How Long Must I Wait?

I remember shortly after I graduated from high school, I wanted nothing more than to write. So much so that I did as much research as I could out in Cupertino, California on muscular distrophy so I could write down all that I had learned and pass it on to others. That paper was typed up and sat in a folder never to see the light of day again. But I knew then that I had a desire to write. I don't think I had a passion for it as I do now, but it was and has always been a part of me and who I am. I am a writer. I've set goals of publishing books, writing blog posts, reading and reviewing books, and doing all I can to write and write and write. But for all the writing I've done, I'm still left with the quesion of when all this writing (that I LOVE, mind you!) will pay off. When will my books bring in a suitable supplemental income for my family? When will I reach 500 readers? When will my books be picked up by an agent or publisher? When my goals finally be reached?

The fact is, I know these things will come to pass because I know that the Lord gave me a talent for writing for a specific purpose at a specific time and to reach and impact the Kingdom for His glory. I can't be in such a hurry to see results from all my efforts that I surpass and sidetrack myself from His plans. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans for good and not evil, to prosper you and not harm you. Plans for a hope, a future and an expected end" (paraphrased). We can also see in Ecclesiastes that there is a time for everything that happens and a purpose under Heaven. God knows we long to accomplish those big goals and dreams and visions we've set! And what's more important and of greater focus to us is that we know He wants us to finish those things we've started.
Don't lose hope or faith. God who began a good work in you will see it to fruition!


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Book Review: Burning Sky

I recently finished reading a very informative and interesting book by Lori Benton. "Burning Sky" is about a girl, Willa Obenchain, who was abducted by the Mohawk Indians and given the name Burning Sky. As she grows older, she is driven to return to the white family she was taken from. Twelve years have passed and her childhood home appears abandoned. A former suitor has gone somewhat mad from the effects of war and claims her parents' land as his own, and Willa meets a wounded soldier named Neil MacGregor. Willa is caught between two worlds: the white man's world in which she was born and the her Mohawk family in which she is Burning Sky. She must rely on her faith in the Almighty and His plan for her life, but is she brave enough?

This story takes place after the Revolutionary War when colonists still feared the native people. The author creates easily the settings with great detail and characters so believable this reader found herself hearing the dialogue between Tames-His-Horse and Burning Sky as the indians would have sounded.
I think as a homeschooling parent that this book would be a wonderful addition and required reading for high school students studying Early American history. The acompanying study guide leads the reader and teacher into a great discussion of the situations, themes, and literary analysis.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Homeschool Hump Day Encouragement

Life-led Learning: Using the Events of Life to Teach Your Children

During the course of our homeschooling years, we have tried a few different curricula to meet the needs of our children in history and science. Everything from creation science to a season-based history curriculum and textbook based teaching to video curriculum. We never really settled on a set curriculum that seemed to reach in the way I had wanted. So I did what any other homeschooling mother who was tired of "trying" curriculum would do: I let the environment guide our learning!
What I mean is that I stopped trying to fit our learning into a set of lesson plans and instead allowed what was happening around us to be the foundation of that learning. This past September when we were hit with flooding of unprecedented proportions, we took our children out to see what exactly was going on. We talked about how the rain caused reservoirs and dams up in the mountains to break and overflow and that the flooding we were experiencing was from the rain accumulating beyond what man-made systems could contain. It was a wonderful time to share about seedtime and harvest, tithing and to learn about river patterns and erosion, too. It was a time packed with thought-provoking moments, great discussions, and investigation by our children. After all, isn't that what we're wanting in the end of our homeschooling journey? A generation of thinking, investigating and curious lifelong learners who will move mountains and become what God called them to be!
What are some ways you incorporate life-led learning into your homeschooling day?


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tip Tuesday: Cold & Flu

Care Packages on Hand for Under-the-Weather Friends

Tawsha from Organized Chaos Online shares today some things we can do to put together cold and flu care packages for friends and family who have been hit with illness! Of course there are many things you can add and customize for friends with small kids, single moms, and even dads, so be creative and remember, compassion and love are the keys!

I have a friend who was fine one day and then didn’t move from her bed for three days. It’s coughing, fever, stuffy nose, cloudy head, the whole shebang.
This situation called for a care package.

I went to good ol’ Target and loaded up on all the things that are essential when you are sick:
  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc
  • Coconut water
  • Tea
  • Cozy mug
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Tissues
Of course, you can go all out and add in a blanket, cough drops, ibuprofen, chapstick, a good book, a movie, fuzzy socks, magazines or anything else you love to have nearby when you’re feeling under the weather. No matter what you choose, it’s the sentiment that matters.
Stay well, friends!

For more on care packages like these, visit Organized Chaos Online!!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Take Hold of Your Inheritance

I enjoy stories of people who are down and out, no where to turn who receive an unexpected inheritance from a long-lost relative. Or how someone inherits a ranch, farm or other business and it makes them instantly rich. And how often I have caught myself wishing that were me getting the inheritance.
Typically, a person gains an inheritance upon the death of someone and the deceased has left instructions for the distribution of the goods, belongings or funds from his or her estate. This week our pastor gave us a wonderful teaching on this very thing.
In all my wishing that I could be the one to be given an inheritance, I had already been granted that, but I never took ahold it. See, when Jesus died, I was given all that I had longed for! I am the one who received a life-changing, instantly-rich inheritance. And what's more is that each one of us was given the same inheritance and it's ours for the asking and receiving! 

You are a child of the Most High God! A child of the King and you're inheritance has been granted! Claim it! Take hold of it! And walk in the knowledge that you've already been added to the will of Jesus that made your inheritance possible!


Friday, February 14, 2014

Love...Experiencing Tender Moments With the Lord

I remember as a teenager wishing each year that school didn't fall on Valentine's Day. All the cheerleaders and the girls with boyfriends received flowers or balloons, their lockers were decorated with streamers proclaiming the day of love, and there was no doubt who had a significant other...and who didn't. I was in the later category. 

(C) 2014 Super Mom Illusion

I longed for that special someone who made me feel complete! I longed to have someone lavish good things over me. I longed for that intimacy of someone truly knowing me and tending to my feelings and emotions. I searched and tried to find reasonable companions, but neither of them could give me those things I needed deep down inside. I decided I simply had to stop searching. And that is when the Lord began to become more real to me as the One who could and would complete me in every way.
Jesus is the perfect example of a bridegroom and He is ready and waiting to adorn us with garments and jewels!
I didn't learn that Jesus longs to be the One who lavishes good things over me, who knows me better than anyone else, and the One who truly longs to tend to my feelings and emotions until I was 30 years old! Young woman, the Lord desires to be the One who completes you! He wants to woo you and be the focus of your daily life. Mom of babies, toddlers, preschoolers and young children, He truly has a plan for your life beyond motherhood! Titus woman, you are never too old to dream new dreams or to set another goal! His plans for you are for good and not evil! To prosper you; give you a hope, a future and an expected end!
This Valentine's Day seek out those tender moments with the Lord where He can share the plans and purpose of your life.


Book Review: Prime of Life

Book synopsis:
Ben used to be a cardiothoracic surgeon before he suddenly abandoned his career and became a janitor at a retirement facility. Now, other than dealing with minor problems such as an unhealthy obsession with prime numbers, an inept boss, and a feud between two cantankerous retirees, he lives a relatively stress-free life. There is even hope for romance when an attractive podiatrist shows an interest in him. But it is not long before his past catches up with him and his carefully protected world begins to unravel. He is forced to face deep issues about life, love, and God head-on, rather than hide behind his cleaning cart. 
(C) Worthy Publishing

This is a wonderful comedic book that gives a look at life when mistakes are made or things go wrong that we never planned. P.D. Bekendam is the author of this masterpiece, and he has a unique way of giving the reader a glimpse into the quirks, mannerisms and personalities of each character. His descriptions of buildings, resident's homes, and the surrounding area weave a clear picture of the setting for the reader. 
I fell in love with the main character, Ben, and was drawn into his romance with Lex. The realistic, believable, cantankerous residents of Heritage Garden added humor, compassion and plausibility to this wonderfully entertaining storyline. I hated to see the story end, but I hope that Bekendam will continue to add to this collection!
As a writer who wrote her first three books in first person present, it was refreshing and encouraging to see that it can be done and done well. I gained a new perspective for the craft of fictional writing, too.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What Happened to the Book Reviews?

If you have been enjoying my book reviews, don't worry! They're still coming, but on the home page near the top center you will find tabs. The book reviews can be found by clicking the Book Reviews tab! Over the next several weeks, we are going to be creating tabs so that if you are looking for homeschooling articles, book reviews or encouraging words, all you will need to do is click on the tab!

I hope you continue to enjoy the new blog format. Don't forget if you like a review, let me know and if you purchase the book, let the author know by leaving a review on his or her book page on Amazon!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Homeschooling Hump Day Encouragement

Creating a Vision for Your Homeschool

If you are new to homeschooling, perhaps you've never really considered why it is you chose to educate your children at home. What is the end result you are expecting? Are you focusing on academics or developing a skill? Do you want your children to pursue a particular career path? Or is there more?

When my husband and I began homeschooling our children over 20 years ago, we hardly had any answers for those questions. As veteran homeschoolers now, however, we have narrowed down what our vision statement is for our children's education: to create a generation of lifelong learners who are not afraid to pursue, investigate and explore any career field they desire. We don't urge them to seek jobs that will pay a higher salary than others. We don't dismiss dreams that to others may seem unattainable. We don't squash their dreams before they have a chance to explore them and give them wings. We simply encourage them to do what is in each one of them to do in life.
You see, we fully believe that the Lord predestines each child for good things and a higher purpose when they become adults. It is our job as homeschooling parents to allow opportunities for our children to explore and try some of those things on their hearts. God wove that desire to go and do into their very DNA! 
So what is your vision for your homeschool? I'd love to hear from you!!


Book Review: Restless

This is an amazing book by Jennie Allen. I've always felt that there are things I am good at in life...I was an EMT, a lab technician (phlebotomist), life coach, account executive, and a host of others things along with being a wife and homeschooling mother. But I have always felt--Restless!
In her book, Jennie shows us how to identify threads in our lives that we can unravel and knit back together to see the Lord's purpose for us. She identifies threads of gifts, suffering, places, people and passions that lead us to realizing our calling and Jennie also shows us that even as moms and wives, it is okay to dream and to pursue our dreams!
I like that this book is adaptable to be a group study. We often need the guidance and accountability of our brothers and sisters in the Lord and here, Jennie has laid that foundation to be open about finding our purpose.

You can find her book, Restless: Because You Were Made for More on!


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

TIP TUESDAY: Valentine's Day Decorations

I'm posting this since it is Valentine's Day this Friday, but this will work for any holiday! Simply by a couple of sheets of holiday papers (usually this will be the 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper), insert them into picture frames and viola! Instant room decor. 
(C) 2014 Lyn Parker

For household organization, you can also use a picture frame as a calendar or to-do list or list of notes. Simply print out a paper that says "NOTES," "To-DO This Week," or even "Menu" for the week. You then slide it into the photo frame and using dry erase markers, you have now made a reuseable list!
(C) 2014 Jodi Cotten

What ideas do you have for using frames in your home?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Are You Influencing Others?

Attracting People Into your Sphere of Influence

I've been thinking about the people I come in contact with on a daily basis. Some people I meet at Civil Air Patrol or church and others are just completely random people that I find I'm able to talk to about the Lord. I love when God orchestrates those types of meetings! Lately I've been wondering about who I influence and attract into my life.

If you want to find out who is influencing you, take a look at the people you follow on Twitter, whose blogs you follow and where you spend most of your time. Those are the things, people, games, and influencers in your life. I follow some pretty big name leaders, bloggers and speakers on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. I know that social media has a big influence on me, but I also know that I have a big influence on the people who read the pages I manage and the blog posts I write.
In my everyday face-to-face life, I have some of the same opportunities to share the truth of the Word and the love of Jesus with others. I'm like a magnet because Jesus is living in me. You are, too! Have you ever heard someone say to you, "I don't know what it is, but I'm just drawn to you"? Well, it's because of the light that shines out of you.
So how do you know if YOU'RE influencing others? Here are some ways:

  • Do strangers feel compelled to share a part of their lives with you?
  • Has anyone told you you're easy to talk to?
  • Have people begun to hang around you at work or school for no real reason (not work related reasons)?
  • Do people ask you to tell them more about your church or what you believe?
  • Were you approached by someone you've never met before and told there is something different about you?
That's the attraction and influence I'm talking about! The Lord stirred something in others that draws them to you. That thing is the Holy Spirit and it's restless to connect with those that are in the light.
So, whether you realize it or not, you are attracting and influencing others! And that is just what God called us all to do!


Thursday, February 6, 2014

If Not Now, When?

When I was younger, I knew I wanted to be a writer/journalist. As a young wife and mother I thought I had to set my own goals and dreams on the back burner because it was my job to take care of my husband's and children's needs. I cleaned, cooked, fed, nursed, birthed, and loved. But I longed to write something, anything!

Ladies, if there is something you long to do, perhaps there is a way to do something toward that now! You may feel your calling is to be a wife and mother. And for this season, it is! But God created you for more than that. He put something in your very being, wove it into your DNA, to accomplish for His Kingdom. Maybe it's ministry, writing, missions or teaching. You know there are things you can do right now that will propel you toward that? You might be thinking, "How can I possibly go on a missions trip with toddlers and preschool children who need me?" I'm not saying you have to do that (unless, of course, the Lord is telling you that!). But I am saying there are short term missions you could do. Maybe you take a group around your church family homes or homes in the community that are in need of repair. That's a type of mission. Local missions are a large part of ministry, too.

And there are many ways you can integrate your calling into your life now. The important part is to start doing something toward that vision, calling, goal or dream NOW! If not now, when?


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Homeschooling Hump Day Encouragement

Several of my friends began homeschooling this year. Some opted to start in August; while others decided mid-year to withdraw their children from the public school system and educate them at home.
If you are new to homeschooling, you may be wondering when the right time to start really is.
The truth is, only you can determine that. Sometimes it's just a prompting to homeschool. Sometimes the decision comes from desperation. But in the end, you have to make the decision to homeschool and do what is best for your children's education.
(C) 2004 Captured Memories 365
I remember when our oldest sons were small. We had homeschooled them for a year and then I became pregnant with our fourth child. I wondered how I could possibly homeschool two children and care for a newborn, so my husband and I made the decision to send the boys to public school, one in first grade and the other in preschool. That year was the most stressful and chaotic year for our family as I found myself driving around to take son #1 to school, then drop son #2 off at preschool. Three hours later, I returned to pick up son #2 and two hours after that piled everyone back into the car to pick up son #1. I remember thinking, "This is so much more difficult than if I would have homeschooled the boys." I cried. I cried for thinking I couldn't do it. I cried because I felt I had let my boys down.
The next year, we brought the boys home and were schooling them and our oldest daughter. A year later, I became pregnant with our fifth child, and we kept everyone home. It was the most relaxing, stress-free year of homeschooling I had experienced! I was able to school them even while nursing, and on snowy, cold days we were free to stay home.
So if you're just starting out or thinking about homeschooling and wondering how it will all work, just look at what your life is like now. And consider stepping out in faith to live out Deuteronomy 6:6-9 which says, "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when your walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as fronelts between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

TIP TUESDAY: Make the Most of Your Clean House

I have a difficult time keeping my home clean on a daily basis. I know it should be easier,  but we just get busy and really, a bit lazy. I have, however, discovered a way to keep it cleaner longer (or at least mostly picked up!). My solution is to host more than one event in a week!
 So this week, we had a soda party that I had to clean the house for and on Saturday I will be hosting our church  women's breakfast. Keeping the influx of guests coming allows me to maintain key areas so they are presentable. 

What are your tips for keeping areas picked up, especially with little ones?


Monday, February 3, 2014

Is Your Vision Dormant?

Over the past several months I have been listening to Terri Savelle Foy. She has been speaking about our visions coming to pass. See, I always thought that young people realized their visions, not older folks like me. I honestly thought a few years ago that I had missed God and therefore missed my calling.
(C)  2014 Captured Memories 365
Maybe you've thought that, too. Maybe you've thought you're too old or too busy or don't have the money to follow your vision. But did you know Jack Canfield, co-author of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series, was nearly 50 years old when those books were published? Colonel Sanders was 66 years old when he started KFC. Ray Croc was 52 when he founded McDonald's. Terri Savelle Foy was 38 when she launched her ministry. And I launched my blog at 41 and published my first book at 43!
It's not too late for you! Your dream may be dormant right now,  but like trees during winter, the budding and blooming of spring is coming. Hold fast to your vision...your time is coming!