Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Finding Inspiration... and Addiction

I have a new addiction. And while my time spent on it certainly needs to be managed, there's been some significant benefit out of it as well.

Recently I discovered Pinterest. If you aren't familiar with it, it's a virtual bulletin board. When you surf the web, you can "pin" a picture to your board and it will maintain the link back to the website you pulled the picture from. So if you find a great recipe, you can pin the picture to your food board and then get back to that recipe later. Such a fabulous idea.

You can then look at your friends' boards and repin awesome things that they've found. You can also see what's popular and look at things lots of other people that you have no connection whatsoever with what you have found.  It's addictive to sit there and thumb through tons of great ideas in a single place.

Image: Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I first got on it with very good intentions. When I'm plotting a book or working on a character, I have a word file that I end up copying and pasting a lot of pictures in from the internet. Now I just pin them to my inspiration board. I wish I could say the majority of my pins have been work related, but sadly, I cannot.

Organization tips, clever tricks, and cute home decor ideas cover most of my boards. Ideas of things to do with the kids or craft projects make up another large chunk. What I am truly happy to say is that these inspirations have not stayed mired in cyberspace. I have actually done some of the projects I pinned!

It has also inspired me to look into finding creative ways to accomplish some of the things I need. For example, I am going through and cleaning out and organizing all the closets in my house. I need some storage bins to help with organization. I have a lot of diaper boxes (which, if you don't have kids, are really sturdy things!) and I have a lot of fabric from my aunt's last house clean-out. I covered diaper boxes with fabric and voila! Pretty organization bins that cost me only the glue to put the pieces together. I feel so crafty.

Where do you go when you need inspiration?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Love VS Love - Regency Reflections Link

I'm over at Regency Reflections today with a look at our limited love compared to the limitless love of God. 

There is an excerpt below. You can read the whole article here. You get a different picture here, though. ;) Enjoy! 

 I love chocolate. I love my husband. I don’t love these things in the same way, though. It’s one of the frustrating things about the English language. We have the word like and we have the word love and there’s nothing in between. I used to think we should introduce the word “loke” into our vocabulary to establish a level between like and love. Then I could say I loke chocolate and I love my husband.

We toss the word love around a lot in the United States. That can’t be said for every other country in the world. I had a friend from England once that got a bit fed up with our usage of it. When someone said, “I love chocolate” my friend would make a face and say “Why don’t you marry it then?” Not terribly original, but it gets the message across.

Read the rest of the article at Regency Reflections. 

Image from morguefile.com

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How Do You Save Time - A Peek at My Readers

Image courtesy of MorgueFile
Okay, so one thing I've been working at is stream-lining my day. Part of this is prioritizing what I need to do so that the most important stuff gets done. Another part of it is doing what I need to do in the quickest way possible. 

Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things. - Peter Drucker

I want to be both. I want to be efficient and effective. 

So help me out here! What are some of the ways you make things more efficient? Got a link to a project that will help people be more effective? 

Throw it in the comments and let's all up our effective efficiency quotient today!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Was Blind But Now I See - Life Lessons from Eyeglasses, part 3

I promise, this is the last week I will talk about eyeglasses. This has just been such an, pardon the pun, eye-opening experience for me.

The view through my daughter's glasses. Pretty blurry!

My daughter has her glasses now. They're pink and cute and she is, of course, adorable in them. When the optician put them on for the first time, my daughter looked around for five minutes, not saying a word, a grin spreading slowly across her face.

It has been so much fun to watch her discover things for the past few days. Someone finding Christ is much the same. They suddenly see things differently than they ever have before.

There have been many changes in her in the few short days she's had her glasses. She's not running into things, she's much less frustrated with meticulous tasks, and overall she's just a happier little girl.

The biggest thing that struck me though is that she is actually seeing herself for the first time. While we were at the doctor's office, I lifted her up to a mirror. I wish I had been filming it because the look on her face was priceless. I can only begin to imagine how she looked to herself before. Her curly hair is more often than not in a wild cloud around her face, which probably made her even image even fuzzier. Now, with her glasses, she can make out her ringlets and see herself as she really is.

What a concept!

How are you looking at the world?
When we look through our sin-natured eyes, we can see so many things wrong with ourselves that are really just a skewed perception. We see things the way the world sees them - blurred by the lens of flawed priorities and misconceptions. Changing our views for the glasses of Christ puts things in such a different perspective! My little girl can now see herself in the mirror and tell me how she wants her hair done. She can also see the crushed Goldfish crackers in the van and tell me what a mess it is. When we look at things through the eyes of Christ we are better able to see the wonderful being He made us to be and the mess the world around us is.

In many ways it has been like watching my daughter get a new life this week. What a blessing that we can get spiritual glasses as well! What is one thing you see differently when you remember to look through the eyes of Christ instead of the eyes of the world?

Image Credit: www.morguefile.com 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Peek Into My Bookcase: The Princess

Once again I am trolling along my bookshelves to talk about one of my favorite, older books.

This month I'd like to highlight The Princess by Lori Wick. Unfortunately I couldn't find contact information for Mrs. Wick so there is no author interview this month. That doesn't make the book any less fabulous!

As a reader of a lot of historical fiction, a plot surrounding an arranged marriage is not all that unusual. This is not an historical novel. It was originally published in 1999, so it's not exactly "present day" but it is a contemporary. As are many books involving small monarchies, the location is a fictional country, but it's very easy to picture.

I was introduced to Lori Wick's books by a friend in college. (She reads this blog so I will now pause to wave wildly at her!) I had to read it very carefully the first time I read it because this particular friend keeps all of her books in mint condition. Seriously, she doesn't break the bindings which is an amazing feat on some of her books. But I digress.

What makes this book one I pick up every few years and read again? I think it's because the couple had to make it work. In many romance novels there is always the option to walk away. The couple can break up. Even though you know they are going to end up together at the end of the book, there is that element of suspense because they can walk away from each other at any time.

Since the wedding in The Princess happens in chapter three, they're pretty much stuck with each other. This puts a completely different spin on the relationship the couple forms. There are so many dynamics that a modern couple would not normally have to deal with when falling in love - like sharing a kitchen but not a bedroom and having their relationship held up in front of an entire country because they are part of the monarchy.

One of the interesting things you see in this book that you don't see in many Christian romances is the consideration of the physical side of the relationship. (In a completely clean way, of course. I'm mostly talking about the emotional side of it.) Because they are married, it's okay for them to find each other physically attractive and to even decide to act upon that attraction. It plays a rather crucial part in the development of their relationship.

The journey is believable and enjoyable. It has moments of humor but you won't be laughing out loud at this book.

Official book description: 

In the Land of Pendaran, Shelby Parker lives a humble but good life. Her special qualities are eventually noticed by the king and queen of the House of Markham, who seek a new wife for their widowed son, Prince Nikolai.
To uphold the tradition of their country, Shelby and Nikolai agree to an arranged marriage. But while Nikolai is a perfect gentleman in public, he remains distant at home, leaving Shelby to wonder what is in his heart. Will the prince ever love her as he did his first wife? Can the faith they share overcome the barriers between them?

This book can be purchased in print and ebook format from almost any major book dealer, including amazon, Barnes and Noble, and CBD (Christian Book Distributors).

Friday, February 10, 2012

Expecting Non-Christians to be Non-Christians - Life Lessons from Eyeglasses, Part 2

It's been an interesting week in our house.

Knowing that my daughter can't see things clearly changed the way I viewed her behavior. I gave her more leeway, patience was easier to come by, and I made a point to guide her around potential obstacles. Because I knew she couldn't see things the way the truly are, I altered my expectations of her.

What an eye-opening thought.

One of the frequent fallibilities of people is that we assume everyone is like us. Because I can see, I assumed my daughter could see. Because I love chocolate, I assume everyone else does as well. (Incidentally, my daughter doesn't. Go figure.) We tend to attribute our own traits to those around us. When it comes to Believers and Non-believers, this is a tragic mistake.

A youth minister that my husband and I mentored under once mentioned that he had to be deliberate about altering his expectations based on the student. While there are certain things you can expect of everyone who crosses your path - for instance, I expect all people to do me the courtesy of not pulling a gun on me - there are other things that you can only expect of another Christian (assuming that you are one yourself).

It isn't fair to expect a non-Christian to abide by God's laws because they don't have the benefit of the Holy Spirit aiding them in that endeavor. That doesn't make it any less wrong for a couple to be sleeping together prior to marriage, but it does make it something easier for me to understand. If it's a non-Christian couple, I have to expect them to behave as non-Christians.

1 Corinthians 5 (You can read the whole chapter here.) mentions this. There is a couple within the church behaving immorally. Paul says that because this couple claims to be Believers, there is a certain level of judgement required from the church. He leaves it to God to judge "outsiders".

The question becomes what do I do with this knowledge? I look back on this week and how I've handled my daughter. I haven't let her run around however she pleases just because she can't see. There are still certain things I expect of her as a member of our family. However, there are other things I have let slide. For instance, I don't tell her to back away from the television anymore. I am more patient when she can't find her shoes and they are right in the middle of the floor, eight inches from her toes. I am not admonishing her to pay attention to where she's going when she runs into the wall.

Next week when she gets her glasses, it will be a different story. I will then be focused on teaching her how to deal with things that are suddenly so much clearer than they have ever been in her life.

I think Christians need to handle non-Christians in a similar way. There are certain expectations when they come visit church - like don't do drugs in the parking lot. But when it comes to other things, we need to remember that they can't see as clearly as we do. Truth may be eight inches from their toes, but it looks like nothing but a blur to them. We can be their gentle guides, showing them the way life can be lived so that they will see the need for their own pair of glasses.

Next week I'll be able to expect my little girl to back away from the TV and avoid the door frame, but this week I have to remember that she's doing the best she can with flawed eyes.

Image Credits:
Eye: Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Scales: vichie81 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Glasses: Wapcaplet on wikipedia

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The New and Old of Valentine's Cards

I'm hanging out at my second home today - Regency Reflections.

Come on over and check out some Valentine's cards, both new and old!

Be Mine, Valentine ~ The art of the handmade card

By the time the Regency time period came around, sending letters to your special valentine was a firmly established tradition in England.
While a few manufactured valentines were finding their way into shops, mass-produced, pre-printed valentines similar to what we see today (minus the cartoon characters) didn’t really make an appearance until the mid-1800s. Therefore, when our handsome heroes gave valentines to our heroines, they had to make them.

Want to read more? Click here to go to Regency Reflections.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Peek At My Yearly Progress

It's February which means the date now starts with a two which means that an entire month of the year has gone by. It is now time to see how well I'm doing on my resolution to focus on getting Healthy. (If you missed my post about choosing this as my Word of the Year, it's here.)

January Recap

In the month of January, I planned to start with Physical health. I joined Weight Watchers, set up my new fitness programs, and downloaded an alarm app on my phone in which I have to do math problems in order to make it shut up. If you are wondering what the alarm has to do with anything, I'll get to that in a second.

Image: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
My Goals for the Month
In the month of January I wanted to:
    - Join Weight Watchers Online
    - Stick with Weight Watchers program
    - Start exercising
    - Eat more fresh fruits and veggies

My Accomplishments for the Month
Here's what actually happened in the month of January:
    - Joined Weight Watchers Online
    - Diligently tracked my points for two weeks
    - Lost track during the monthly "Give Me Chocolate" saga
    - Half-tracked ever since. Oops.

    - Started exercising.
    - Started the Nine Week Workout program on my new EA Active 2 for the Wii (Love this by the way)
    - Missed Day 4
    - Haven't been back on. Oops.

    - Bought produce saving containers that I knew worked because my mom has some
    - Bought lots of produce and washed and prepped it and stored it in the containers
    - Ate the fruits and veggies
    - Repeated process. Yea!

    - Had a major breakthrough in Spiritual Health that I wasn't expecting. I'm sure I will share it here when God tells me the time is right to do so.
    - Have not missed my morning Bible reading time in two weeks. Awesome!

So the month was some good, some bad, but overall not a total loss. I have lost five pounds, which is a really good thing. I had that unexpected revelation which is an awesome thing. And I discovered am amazing ability to fall asleep in moments, which is just a weird thing.

Image: Paul / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I downloaded an alarm clock app to my phone that would require me to work math problems because I figured that would force me to wake up when the alarm went off. I am good at math, but I can't do it in my sleep. My theory worked. With one exception. I can apparently wake up, do two math problems, and then fall back asleep almost instantly. My plan to get up and work out before my children awaken isn't going so smoothly.

February Plan

And now month two has begun. The beauty of focusing on one word is that I don't feel I have failed. While I did not accomplish all of my goals, my life is healthier than it was four weeks ago. Now to focus on moving forward and becoming even healthier.

My Goals for the Month
Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Here's what I want to do this month:
    - Stick to Weight Watchers program through the whole month
    - Begin a morning Pilates habit (Every time I've done these before I get fast results which should help spur me onward.)
    - Practice keeping track of my spending in preparation for creating a budget for March
    - Begin purging my house of un-needed items to let me focus on what I love
    - Extend my morning Bible time to include more prayer time

So, how's your word of the year coming along?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Life Lessons from Eyeglasses Part One

Image: twobee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I just took my daughter to the opthamologist. It turns out she's quite farsighted. And while it is very likely that her prescription will weaken as she ages, she'll likely be in glasses the rest of her life. I knew when we went that glasses were likely to be the outcome of the visit. What I didn't expect was the strength of her prescription.

Considering the strength of the glasses on order, I'm stunned at how well my daughter functions. She has learned all of her letters, can identify most of the major cartoon characters, and is a whiz on the computer. She does all of this without seeing properly which is why she has also been running into walls, sticking her face an inch from said computer's screen, and crossing her eyes when she tries to focus on something. She has no idea what kind of detail the world actual holds because it's all blurry to her. I've been blessed with good eyesight so I don't know what it is to look at something and not see it. I can't imagine what things must be like for her.

How often are we like that? We seem to be functioning well in this world - volunteering at church, spending time with our families, and enjoying a certain measure of success in our chosen professions. The question is, are we missing the best of the stuff that God has created for us? Are we running into the same issues over and over again? Or maybe we find ourselves manipulating situations into something that fits better with our perceptions and lifestyles?

Image: arztsamui / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I don't know what will happen when my daughter's glasses come in. I know it's going to rock her world to discover Mommy has eyelashes. I hope it will ease some of her frustration when she can't quite seem to do something (like open a door because she can't find the doorknob!). In the meantime, I'll be a little more understanding when I ask her to find something and she can't or when I question her about what something is and she says "I don't know."

As soon as I discovered how much my little girl couldn't see, I wanted to run that prescription to the nearest one hour glasses place and fix it immediately. But she needs special lenses and special frames that have to be ordered. I think it will be a good thing. I have two weeks to watch her function and think about what areas of my life as I seeing incorrectly. What God-made blessing am I missing because I choose to look through my own eyes instead of of the lenses of God's?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New Regency Blog Opens Today

Regency Reflections starts today! I am so excited to be a part of this project. It should be a great home for Inspirational Regency discussion and information.

Come on over and check out my kick-off post.