Friday, March 30, 2012

Junk Makes You Sick ~ Life Lessons from Pizza and Exercise

If you follow my blog you know I have been trying to exercise. Well, I've been doing really well at getting it in everyday - my muscles are actually sore, thank you very much!

The other day, it was late in the afternoon before I could get my exercise in. Because of our schedule that day/evening I had ordered pizza. It arrived just as I was starting my workout. Of all the days when I could have handled the pizza guy being  a little late...

Anyway, I had really just started the warm up and I knew if I ate first I'd never get my workout in, so I set the kids up to eat and went ahead and exercised. It was a good workout.

Then I ate dinner.

Which was pizza.

I think you see where I'm going with this. My body had just done something really good for it. It was recuperating from the joy and pain of moving things that it doesn't normally have to or get to move. Then I threw pizza at it. Which is not the healthiest of foods.

Three hours later I still felt sick.

We do this so often in life. We go to church or Bible Study or even our own quiet times and focus on God. We stretch our spiritual selves. We grow in faith and ability.

Then we get in the car and fill our ears with song lyrics that God certainly didn't write. We go to work or school or the grocery store and mistreat people. We gorge ourselves on the things of this world and it makes our spirits sick.

If I eat junk everyday I am going to have a very hard time getting better results from my exercising. The muscles I need to use aren't getting the right fuel. The same is true in our spiritual lives. If we don't feed ourselves the things of God then our faith will not be as strong as it could be at the moment when we need it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Social Media ~ Peek At A Writer's Life

Recently, I decided to get on twitter (you can follow me here) since that's just one of those things aspiring authors do to prove to prospective agents and editors that we can handle ourselves in the big bad world of social media.

I created my account, found some of my favorite people to follow and started figuring out how I wanted to throw things out into the void of cyberspace. After a few days I decided to toss a comment to one of the people I followed, because that's really what twitter is about - conversations.

That was a few weeks ago and I've been thinking about this brief three minutes of my life off and on ever since. Don't get me wrong, I haven't been obsessing about it or anything, but I've been thinking about it and what I can learn from it. I've learned that there are some really good things about social media and some really bad things.

Here's what happened. 

I follow Jon Acuff. He's an awesome blogger that makes me think and laugh at the same time. If you don't follow him, you should.

He posted an article, you can read it here, mentioning people posting pictures of notes on instagram for the express purpose of guilting people into clicking "like" so the pictures can become popular. They say things such as "Like this post if you want to cure cancer." I whole-heartedly agree with the article. I'm not on instragram, but the Facebook statuses and email forwards with the same type of message irk me.

Later that same day, Jon (Mr. Acuff? Jon Acuff? What's the proper way to respectfully refer to a public person you don't actually know?) liked a post from instagram that was a note. Now, it was not a note guilting anyone into anything. It was a great message. You can see it here.

You can pack a lot of misunderstanding
into 140 characters. 
I found it a bit ironic that he was liking a picture of a note after writing about pictures of notes. It was such a stark contrast to the types of notes he had been talking about that it struck me as funny and I wondered if he thought it was funny too.

So I told him.

He didn't think it was funny. Or he didn't think I thought it was funny. Or maybe he just wanted to make sure someone who hadn't read the article realized there was a difference. You can pack a lot of misunderstanding into 140 characters.  He answered me almost immediately letting me know that he had not been talking about that kind of instagram note in his article.

I responded back that I had not meant it to be derogatory and that was the end of the conversation.

The Good, The Bad, and The Grumpy

The fact that this conversation happened at all is one of the good things about social media. I don't know Jon. I have never met him, and there's little chance I ever will. The opportunity to talk to someone whose work I like and respect is a neat thing about the internet - twitter especially, from what I can tell.

The fact that it was a short back and forth and not a real conversation where people actually discuss things until they both understand each other is the bad thing.

I get really sad when I think I've hurt someone's feelings. I get really grumpy when I feel like I've acted like an idiot. Despite that, I'm really glad this happened. Why? Two reasons:

1. I'll be more careful in the future. I try to be really careful anyway, but I see now I could have said something else to create less confusion. I thought I was being funny the way I worded it. Clearly it didn't work.

2. I'll be a bit more understanding (I hope!) when it's me on the other side. God willing, I will one day have followers I've never met and people messaging me with things that can be taken multiple ways. If I remember this moment, maybe I'll be more inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

You'll notice I'm not siting the actual conversation and I'm posting this three weeks after it happened. Why? Because the conversation isn't what's important. To have everyone else analyzing three little sentences would be pointless and I'm pretty sure I'd come out the bad guy, or at least the wrong guy. The conversation itself is not what this post is about. It's about what I learned about social media from it.

Wrapping It Up

Is all this social media a good thing? I think so. I know I keep in touch with people I otherwise wouldn't. It gives me more direct contact with people I would normally only see once or twice a week. As a writer, it will let me connect with my readers (when I have some!) in ways authors weren't able to before.

I also think it's something we need to be very careful with. A simple misunderstanding can have massive repercussions. In some cases, it can mean the end of a friendship or even a division in a church. In my case it's just a few moments of embarrassment. Unless Jon uses Google Alerts, finds this article, and decides to read it. In which case... Hi, Jon! Hope you enjoyed it.

So think twice before you post. Make sure your meaning is clear. And if you only have 140 characters, try to make sure they're the right ones.

The Silver Lining

The only good thing is that I have since learned that I think I used the @Reply differently than I thought I had, so it's pretty likely that no one but me and Jon saw the conversation. And that is a blessing.

What about you? Have limited space or lack of ability to transmit tone gotten you in trouble on the internet?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Picking Your Battles ~ Life Lessons from the GCB Controversy

If you watch anything on ABC you've probably seen the commercials for their new show, GCB. They're hoping it will grab the viewership of the ending "Desperate Housewives".

It is grabbing the notice of several people in the Christian community. This isn't very surprising and I'm sure it was even expected. A portion of the show takes place in or talks about church. Some people are causing quite a tizzy about it - calling for boycotts of the show, the network, and the advertisers. There are some calling for all Christian women to write ABC and demand they take the show off the air. Some see it as a violation of Christians everywhere, including Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich and Peter Vallone, a New York City councilman.

Some people are digging in the trenches and preparing for battle. It's a battle I don't happen to agree with. If I thought these characters depicted every Christian female, then I would also think every dad in America was a clueless chauvinist lump being manipulated by a strong, crafty wife. (Take the family sitcom of your choice.)  I would think every doctor was an egotistical lunatic that jumped into bed with every available nurse. (Any medical show I've seen or heard of.)

But what if I did want to take aim at something? What steps do I think some of GCB's accusers should have taken before opening fire? The same steps we should always take before deciding to go after something.

1. Know Your Enemy

Once something snags your attention that you think might be worthy of the effort, get to know it. Learn it. Study it. Know what it is you are fighting against.

I've seen so many articles crying out against the show because of the name alone. GCB is based on a book with a curse word in the title. Now, I am not a fan of cursing. I don't cuss and I don't choose to surround myself with it. But I don't think it's the most evil thing anyone can do. To be honest, I am MUCH more concerned with the prolific use of "Oh my god" on television and in culture than I am having the word Christian next to the word bitch.

As to the charge that it is degrading to Christians, I've heard many other shows trash Christianity far more than GCB has. Of most of them I have seen only a single episode, or heard about it after the fact, so I won't mention them by name here. I don't know them well enough. But I will throw back a few years and pick up MASH. I was watching it in reruns a few months ago and was stunned by the number of times it was degrading to Christianity. If that's how it was three decades ago, imagine what could be on television now. But since it's not in the title, we aren't creating an uproar.

The problem is that some people are speaking out against the show without having watched it. They've seen the title and the previews and have declared it evil. I saw one article that listed several scenes to back up their point that it was a horrible show. All of the scenes were from the preview. She talked about a scene where a couple was about to go at it on a desk and they turned over the pictures before they did. The only problem with decrying that scene is that the couple in question was married and God's okay with married people having sex with each other. He encourages it, actually, even if they don't want a picture of Him staring at them while they do it.

The argument has also been made that none of the characters portray any of the aspects of a true Christ-follower. However, one character, Heather, is originally part of the scheme to bring Amanda down. She takes the time to learn the new Amanda, but is too afraid of having the others turn on her to actually befriend her. By the end of the second episode she declares herself to be Amanda's friend as well by attending her welcome luncheon. Seems like a Christian strength to me. Not that everything Heather does is perfect, and there's no indication that Jesus gives her the strength to make her choice, but it is a redeeming quality.

I have watched the show and I have read several reviews - both Christian and secular - from people who have actually watched the show. The consensus is about the same conclusion I came to. It's an over-the-top depiction of some of the characteristics of actual churchgoers that needs more depth and plot to actually carry it. It should have been a movie.

If I'm going to try a show I always give it three episodes. I've given it three episodes. Am I going to keep watching? Probably not. But not because I'm offended. Mostly because I'm bored.

2. Know Yourself

The main reason I'm not mad at ABC for coming out with this show is that the church handed it to them on a silver platter. No, most churches and churchgoers are not this outrageous or this obvious. But, there are elements of truth in all of the overblown characters.

I have heard people have an entire argument with out-of-context Bible verses. I have heard prayers that were intended to dig at certain individuals. I have even heard a disgruntled preacher use an entire sermon as a veiled insult. I have witnessed someone tell another person they had just been "out-Christianed". Couples smile at church and go home to a broken marriage every week. Gossip is frequently spread in the guise of prayer requests. We have cliques. We fail to forgive. We get caught up in fashion and appearance. We fight with our families. We argue over the color of the pew upholstery.

The fact of the matter is, that while you probably won't find all of these things meshed into one screwed up person like they are on the show, taken individually you can find an example of almost every hypocritical thing the show has depicted. While we might not like it, we can't fault them for calling us on it.

Before you go into battle, make sure you have a leg to stand on.

3. Realize That a Direct Assault is Not Always Best

The old adage that you can catch more flies with honey does not only apply to trying to get things that you want. It can also apply to battle. There's another old adage as well: Kill them with kindness.

Imagine for a moment that instead of calling for boycotts and saying the show isn't good enough to get worked up about (as some reviews have done) we take the higher road. What if we stood up and said, "Yes, we have screwed up. I saw myself in some of those things and I have had to ask God to forgive me. That's the beauty of the God. We can screw up and be human and He takes us back. This show is depicting some of the worst sides of the church. Yes, there are some bad things, but there's some really good things too. Why don't you come see the good side of Christianity with me Sunday?"

It's honest. It admits to falling down. It isn't taking the attitude of the holier-that-thou Christian. What if we welcomed people to come and meet the God that loves those ladies (assuming they were real) despite their hypocritical, messed up lives.

I think we would find that what might have been meant for evil, can be used for good. God has a history of doing that. (Genesis 50:20)

Every good general knows the importance of a battle plan. Sometimes the strangest, most ridiculous battle plans are the ones that work. If God could use some trumpets, lanterns, and broken pottery to conquer an entire city (Judges 7), imagine what he could do with the self-exposing honesty, love, and forgiveness in the face of adversity?

By the way, if you've never seen the show it's about a group of Christian-claiming ladies that declare war against an old enemy when she returns to town. They don't wait to see if she's changed. They don't try to get to know her. One mention of her name and they begin plotting her demise.

That sounds uncomfortably familiar.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Twenty-Six Days of.... what? ~ Peek At My Readers

Because I think it's an interesting challenge and I like the idea of bouncing around to check out some blogs I wouldn't otherwise see, I am planning on participating in the A to Z blog challenge in April.

You can click the logo to read more about it.

Here's my problem... My understanding is that I'm supposed to pick a topic and post on twenty-six items from that topic - one for each letter of the alphabet. I've tossed around a few ideas, but I'm just not sure what to write.

What would you like to read about in April?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Misuse and Abuse ~ Life Lessons from Scissors

My Daughters' New Bow Holders
I have a confession to make. I am not nice to my scissors.

I use the same scissors for everything - cutting paper, opening those ridiculous plastic clam shell things, opening food wrappers. Anything you would use a pair of scissors for (and some things you probably shouldn't use them for) I do with the same pair of scissors.

Just in case you were wondering... this is not a good idea.

I decided to make bow holders for all my daughters' hair bows. That's them in the picture. Aren't they cute?

I pulled out the scraps of fabric and got online (you know, the whole crafty Pinterest thing) to find out how to make fabric flowers. I ended up using a combination of two different methods and some of my own finagling, but that's not the purpose of this post. We're talking about scissors today.

The "Not-So-Good" Flower. Note
the frayed petals. Yikes. 
Anyway, I went to cut the fabric and I had an awful time doing it. It took me forever and the edges were frayed and it was awful. My husband came in and started looking at the scissors. These were nice, name-brand scissors but because I had not taken care of them, they were scraped and gouged and really not good for cutting something like fabric.

He went to my daughter's art desk and pulled out a pair of her safety scissors. The kind with the rounded nose and the little finger holes. She has nice safety scissors. They cost me all of a dollar. The important thing is, though, that she's never cut anything but paper with them.

My husband picked up the fabric, and I'm thinking there is no way this is going to cut. Sure enough it made a nice, sharp, clean cut. Just look at the difference in the flowers. One is with my damaged scissors and the other with my daughter's safety scissors. What a difference.

The "Good" Flower. It's still rough,
but that's my fault. 
Life is a lot like that. God gifts us with a lot of things. He gives us talents, promises, and great opportunities. But if we misuse our faith, if we abuse His grace, then when we go to use those things for what they are meant for, we can find them damaged beyond redemption.

No, we cannot lose our salvation once we have truly surrendered our life to Christ, but we CAN miss out on all the great blessings He intends for His children. I think about my education. He gifted me with amazing opportunities. I was in a great school district growing up and went to a fantastic college. I got good grades and did well in school, but I certainly did not utilize the opportunity in the wisest way possible.

My efforts to just get by and enjoy the ride left gouges and scrapes where knowledge and experience should have been. If my GPA had been higher or I had actually retained more of what I supposedly learned, I would have had a lot more career opportunities and been a better employee coming out of college.

What are some opportunities you have misused that caused you to be less effective later in life?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March Madness Fun, Part 1

I made brackets. What little rhyme or reason I had for my picks had nothing to do with basketball. I know enough about the game to be able to follow it when I watch it, but that's about it.

Normally, I would post this on Friday because I intend to draw some sort of life lesson from the results of my random selections. In this case, however, Friday is too late because the tournament will have already started.

Did you make brackets? Want to have some fun and make a random selection like I did? Come on over to ESPN and join my group.

1. Go to
2. Make your brackets (you may have to create an account, but that's pretty easy. You can even connect with facebook.)
3. Join the group Amelia's Drawing Room. The password is CupOfTea. Hehe. Isn't that cute?
4. Come back here and leave a comment telling me if your brackets were thought out or random, like mine.
5. Tell your friends to put their brackets in and come visit the blog.

If you've already made brackets, then you can just come join in our group. The winner will get a lovely mention on the blog, but that's about it. This is just for fun. Got more than one bracket? Feel free to throw them in there. I think you can have up to ten brackets each in the group.

I'm not going to tell you about my brackets yet other than to tell you I have Duke winning the whole thing because I am currently writing a book about a Duke. My logic is terrifying, isn't it?

How did you decide your brackets?

A Peek Into My Bookcase: The Whitney Chronicles

Judy Baer is here! Everyone say hi!

Once again I'm taking you to that fabulous shelf on my bookcase... my re-read shelf. The books that I absolutely love and I pick up again from time to time. Today I present The Whitney Chronicles by Judy Baer. This is the first book that I took to church with me and put it in the hands of one of my friends and said, "You HAVE to read this!"

The Whitney Chronicles is a comedy and it is a romance, though not your typical one. Whereas a lot of romances follow the relationship's progress all the way to total commitment/marriage, this ones follows more of that initial coming together process.

I will be honest, most of the time those books are not my favorites. I like them and all, but I really like following the progression of the relationship more.

Whitney herself is what saves this book. There is so much going on in her life beyond figuring out this whole guy thing that you just can't help but take the ride with her. She's a fabulous, fabulous character. Despite the comedic leanings of the book, it deals with some very serious issues that I think Judy handled very well.

Here's the official blurb for the book:

spinster: noun
1 : an unmarried woman or a women for whom marriage seems dubious
2 : a women who spins or weaves for a living

Her mother, sister, and friends (?) fear spinsterhood may be the fate of thirty-year-old Whitney Blake. And while she doesn't believe she'll actually  end up weaving her own tablecloths, Whitney does wonder whether Mr. Right will ever arrive, despite her mom's adoption of matchmaking as the prime project of her "postmenopausal zest."

Maybe Whitney needs to be more proactive. And so she starts a journal, stating her goals:
"This month - lose two pounds (sensibly), stand up straight with my stomach sucked in so I appear tall and thin, don't let my mother drive me crazy (a particularly difficult project). GET ORGANIZED. Start by cleaning closets. Have friends over for dinner. Pray more, obsess less." 

It must be working - suddenly there's more than one man in Whitney's life. But are any of them marriage material, or is "fabulous, single, Christian man" an oxymoron? 

And, as I mentioned, Judy Baer has actually stopped by to talk about this book. I had no idea until I started researching this article how many books Judy had written. She's written more than seventy books! I have only read eight of them, so now I'm on a hunt to find more. 

Without further ado, a short talk with Judy Baer: 

Q: Because of styling and timing this book has often been compared to Bridget Jones' Diary. Did that book/movie influence you at all? How do you feel having the two compared?

A: Though this book is often compared to Bridget Jones’ Diary, it was actually written beforeI’d even heard of the book or the movie.  I’d given the manuscript to my agent two years earlier and she said that although she liked the book, there was no market for it—yet.  By the time she called to say she’d sold the book to Steeple Hill CafĂ©, I’d almost forgotten about it!  I’m so glad it was published because Whitney is one of the characters who is closest to my own sensibilities and sense of humor. 

Q: Authors frequently talk about stories running away with them and characters doing the unexpected. I don't want to give away the story to anyone who hasn't read it yet, but was there ever a point when you were writing the book that you thought Whitney would end up with one of the other guys showing an interest in her?

A: I really did love the first guy in the story that Whitney had friendship with but I always write with the end of the book in mind, so a true romance with him was an impossibility.

Q: You've written more than 75 books. That's amazing! What was it like the first time you held a book with your name on the cover? What is one thing you know now that you would like to have known then?

A:  The first time I held a book in my hand was almost as exciting as when the editor called and told me she was purchasing the book.  Love’s Perfect Image was the first I sold and I remember bouncing off the sofa in the family room.  It was bliss!

Q: Of those 75+ books, do you have a favorite? Were there any that were just a complete bear to write that you were just glad when you were finished?

A:  Books I enjoyed writing?  The Whitney Chronicles, for sure.  Be My Neatheart and The Million Dollar Dilemma for Love Inspired were great fun.  Most recently, my favorites are Unexpected Blessings and Surprising Grace which will be released in April, 2012.  When they are fun to write, they become my favorites and I think the joy shows up in the writing.

Thank you, Judy, for stopping by today! 

You can learn more about Judy and her books at her website

The Whitney Chronicles can be purchased in ebook format from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The paperback seems to only be available in used format, but there were several listed on Amazon and eBay. You can probably find them at other online used book retailers as well. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Perseverance Makes a Difference ~ Life Lessons from the Stop Kony Movement

Unless your internet has been disconnected or you avoid social media like the plague, you've probably heard this week about the Stop Kony movement by Invisible Children.

If not, you can...
       See the video here.
               Read an article critiquing the movement here.
                         Read Invisible Children's rebuttal here.

Today, I am not talking about whether the movement is right or wrong or whether or not you should participate. There are other blogs happily debating the topic.

What I want to do is look at the movement itself. Whether you agree with the movement or not, you can't argue that if their goal has been to get people to talk about it, they're succeeding. The message is spreading like wildfire. Can you imagine the change that would come over this world if the gospel message of Jesus Christ were to break out and spread like that? It's amazing to think about.

So I started thinking, "Why this cause?" Invisible Children is hardly the only charity out there fighting to end an injustice. There are many groups out there fighting for causes that I would consider to be bigger than this one. Acts of injustice that effect more people than Kony does. So why is Stop Kony such a big deal?

1. It's specific.

There are girls being kidnapped everyday and forced into sexual slavery. Millions are affected by AIDS. There are places without clean drinking water. There are people starving in the United States. Homelessness. Abandoned Children. Worthy causes are endless.

What's different about this one? There is a specific target. There is a single man to get mad at. The goal is definable - get one man arrested. With a definable goal comes the confidence that the goal can be reached. Often times causes seem to be endless. Those working to erase poverty will never actually win the battle because someone will always be earning less than everyone else. That can make it hard to get people to join your cause.

2. There's a sense of urgency.

They aren't asking for a long term commitment from anyone. They are asking for a year. Even less than that, they are asking for one day. If you miss that day, then you miss the movement. You can't decide three months from now to take part - you'll have missed it. There's a now or never mentality to the movement that spurs people to action. They even tell you to stop wearing the bracelets when the year is over.

There will always be children abandoned because their parents can't or won't take care of them. If I miss helping one, there will be another one on another day. With the Stop Kony campaign, if you miss it, it's gone. People don't like to miss out, especially when it could be something huge.

3. The request is simple. 

Yes, they would love to have your money. Yes, they want you to go plaster posters up in your city. But mostly, they want you to talk about it. They want you to sit at your computer and make it a big deal. Tell your friends. Share the links. What they are requesting is easy for a lot of people to do.

They are even giving people a reason to contact big name celebrities that most people would never have the guts to talk to. They've given people a reason to send messages and letters to their favorite actors and singers. The request is simple and something most people enjoy doing anyway. They just ask that instead of tweeting about the big basketball game, you tweet about Kony.

4. They've been at it a long time.

They didn't just gather last week and say, "Hey, let's stop this guy!" If I understood the video right, they've been working at this since 2001. That's a long time to keep at something that doesn't seem to be having the desired result. It's been a slow process, but they've kept at it. You can't win the race if you stop running it.

5. They got emotional. 

This is not a dig at the fact that he used his adorable little son in the video. It's not a complaint about the possibility of left out or simplified facts. It's a statement on human nature. If we are not emotionally involved, we will not get involved. We don't stick out noses in places because it is a smart thing to do. We do it because we're curious or angry or scared or jealous.

We try to save the whales because we're mad about what people do to them. Sometimes we help the homeless out of guilt. Emotions drive actions. Ideally people get emotionally involved, then bring their heads with them to examine the facts and decide the best course of action. But without the initial emotional tug, they aren't going to act.

6. They kept the message simple.

There's also only so much thinking most people are willing to do. Attention spans are low and we don't normally sit at our computers wanting someone to ask us to think. So they made the information as basic as possible. It's like when I teach things to my daughter. I gloss over some technicalities because her brain is still trying to grasp the basic concept. Once she understands that, we come in and teach the details.

What now?

What do we do with these lessons? To be honest, I'm still thinking about that. But I know that anytime there's an effective method of reaching a lot of people with a single message, it behooves evangelical Christians to look at it and learn from it. So let's think of ways we can apply these lessons.

After all, every day 7 billion people contract a disease that will ultimately lead to death. There are 3,800 entire people groups that have not even heard of the cure for this disease. Some of them will die today. The disease? Sin. The consequence? Hall and eternal death and separation from God. The cure? Jesus Christ.

How can we take these lessons and apply them to tell more people about the cure?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Redefining Success ~ A Peek At My One Word Progress

It's March. That is total madness (ha! I'm so funny!)

But seriously, how can it be March? It seems like only yesterday I was getting ready for Valentine's Day and now BOOM, it's shamrocks and leprechauns. We don't really celebrate St. Patrick's Day at my house, but still.  It's March. Which means it's time to take a look and see where I'm at in making my life a little bit healthier. I don't think this is going to be pretty...

You can read January's recap here.

February Recap

Let's start by looking back at what I hoped to accomplish in February. As a recap, here were my goals:

Goals for the Month
     - Stick to Weight Watchers program
     - Begin a morning Pilates habit
     - Track my spending
     - Begin purging my house of un-needed items
     - Extend my morning Bible time to include more prayer time.

Goal Accomplishments for the Month

    - I did not get back on Weight Watchers. I will be canceling my subscription. I will not waste money on something I'm not using.

    - Did not start Pilates habit, but I HAVE been getting some workouts in, so I'll count that as a plus.

    - Have not tracked my spending or set up the March budget (at the time of writing this which is actually March 1. Hopefully I will have done this by the time this actually posts.)

     - I HAVE begun the purging process!  I sent around 250 items out of my house. They either went to a local consignment sale (Yea! Check coming soon!) or they went to charity. It felt great!  I also managed to give away several items as part of the Valentine's Banquet at church... we played Let's Make A Deal.

     - My morning Bible reading is going well. I actually finished a devotional plan and have moved on to reading the entire Bible in chronological order. That's going to take me a couple of years, at least. I am focusing more on prayer and that is making life better.

Other Accomplishments for the Month

  - I did move forward in my goal to become a published author by entering my latest manuscript into a contest. Judging on that will begin soon, so please pray for me!

     - I started a blog with several other Inspirational Regency authors. If you haven't checked it out yet, go to Regency Reflections today!

     - I rearranged my living room. While this may seem minor to you, it is HUGE to me.

     - I did not gain any weight. I have actually lost a couple of pounds despite my inattention to my Weight Watchers tracking program.

    - I schlepped my daughter around to numerous doctor's appointments. Aside from the glasses saga, which you can find out about here, here, and here, we have also had a couple of trips to the allergist to discover she's allergic to milk. Fun. Have you ever realized how much stuff has milk in it?!?

     - I have taken the time to play games, build castles, and cuddle more with my children. This is something that I had been neglecting. I think many stay-at-home moms do. The curse of the familiar.

This is not what I would consider a hugely successful month, BUT I have to look at what I have managed to accomplish and know that things can and will get better. If I only dwell on what I managed to miss, I'll become quite depressed.

March Plan

And so we move on to March, because I can't go back and change February. What does it mean to be healthy? I'm trying to go back to the essence of my word for the year and not get hung up on little new years type goals every month. I know we have a very large church event this month that is going to take up a lot of my time, so I need to plan accordingly.

My Goals for the Month

     - Get my taxes done. I don't want to wait until the April deadline is looming over me.

     - Work out at least three times a week. Five would be preferable. Seven would be awesome.

     - Make a budget. Stick to it.

     - Start a purge pile for a yard sale in April.

     - Read at least one book a day with my kids.

     - Have a date with my husband. We haven't gone out just the two of us in a really long time.

Your turn!!! How is your year shaping up? If you could change anything from this point forward, what would it be?

Monday, March 5, 2012

March Madness Brackets ~ Posting at Regency Reflections today!

Yep, I'm over at Regency Reflections today talking about sports. As the country gears up for another round of collegiate basketball madness, I'm taking a look at what sporting events caused a ruckus in early 19th century England. Here's a sample:

Ah, Spring. When a young American man's fancy turns to brackets and basketballs and he is likely to put more consideration into picking which college to root for than he did selecting which college to attend. There's a reason it's called March Madness.
 Kristi here, and the fascination with sports is not a new one. The Regency era saw a culture on the cusp of the organized sporting events. While many games remained unofficial skirmishes, there were several championship challenges emerging by the beginning of the Victorian era. And of course, all of them got gambled on....

Read the rest of the article!

Once you've finished reading, pop back over here and tell me who to put on my March Madness brackets, because I am clueless.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Chuck the Junk - Life Lessons from a Minivan

We cleaned out the family car this week. I mean, hauled the vacuum out there, took out the car seats, and swept out the goldfish kind of cleaned. I do not even want to think about how much yuckiness came out of my van. Because we have to drive so far to church, we end up eating at least two meals and two snacks a week in the car. No, it's not ideal, but it's just the way life is right now.

We found chicken nuggets, old biscuits, crushed Goldfish, and fossilized french fries is just about every crevice in the back of the van. The front wasn't much better. Bags from our fast food ventures, old bulletins and church papers, crushed Mountain Dew cans, and a couple of jackets were tucked around the front seats.

It's amazing there was room for us, to be honest.

So we cleaned it out. We even used glass cleaner on the inside of the windshield. The van hasn't been this clean in a long time.

What's the point of this, you ask? Well, I've been driving a clean van around all week and I LOVE IT! I am driving to the exact same places I drive every week, but it just feels better. It's easier to get the kids in and out of the car. Loading groceries or even the diaper bag isn't an exercise in futility. Somehow my little van even seems bigger on the inside than it used to. All because I shoveled the junk out of it.

What would happen if I shoveled the junk out of my life. Would my life feel bigger? Would it be easier to do the things I need to do? I know it would make it so God could put things in that needed to be there. We went to Costco this week and it was so easy to load those big boxes in the car because we didn't have to move fifteen things left in the car from last Sunday. When we got home we unloaded the car! What a novel concept!

I know my life, like my van, will get messy again. Sin will seep it's way into the cracks and crevices like a forgotten french fry. I just need to remember that if I'll let God bring a vacuum in more often, it won't seem like quite a chore to clean my life out.

On a lighter note, when we were cleaning out the car seats we found one of those shaker tambourines on a stick instruments that one of the girls had apparently brought home from church. The funny thing was that the stick was in one girl's seat and the head with the cymbals on it was in the other. It doesn't look like it's broken - it goes back together just fine - but I have to wonder how they decided who got which piece. We also found a piece of chewed gum that had miraculously not stuck to anything, but just sat there and dried out. Gross.

What's the strangest thing you've ever found while cleaning out your car?