Monday, August 26, 2013

I have the privilege of sharing over at Susan DiMickele's blog today!  If you've found my little blog from hers, welcome!  I started this blog after a blog-hiatus of several years to get back in the habit of writing more frequently.  Sadly, some tight work-deadlines and busy family transitions have taken priority recently.

Despite the infrequency of my updates, it's good to have a place to come and process from time to time.  Hopefully, after August ends, a time to begin sharpening my skills and cultivating the discipline I need for my writing to really improve.

In the mean time, I'll be living lots of life.  I hope you are doing the same.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Wherein I take it all back...

At this very moment I want to say, I take back my "juggling" posts.  I don't know how to juggle (literally or metaphorically) and I certainly don't think I am in a position to tell someone else how to do it.  I only know to lean on Jesus and walk one step at a time.  Neat and tidy tips are fun to write, and to make one feel as though one has it all together, but life is not always that neat, tidy and predictable is it?

If any of the tips I posted are helpful, great!  If they are not that's fine too.  :)

At this moment my family is in the midst of tremendous change.  And big changes always cause me to question the nitty-gritty of how I "do life".  Some of the recommendations I posted just a month ago don't make nearly as much sense today.  You see, yesterday was my husband's first day as a Stay At Home, Home-school Dad (SAHHD).  The impact of this incredible, amazing change are sure to unfold as time passes, but right now, I'm reeling a bit!

I am simultaneously elated and terrified.  This choice is both the culmination of something we have wanted since before Silas was born, and something completely unforeseen.  We always wanted to home-school.  We always liked the idea of one parent stay home with our son, and made getting to that point financially our aim.  We also always supposed that parent would be me. 

I am thrilled because I truly believe this to be the very best way to educate our son (I definitely see advantages to home education for all children, but in this case I genuinely do mean OUR son specifically).  I am scared because there is so much unknown ahead of us.  We did not make this decision lightly and in fact, if I'm honest, I think our preconceived ideas, and expectations prevented us from making it sooner than we could have but I digress.

Neither of us were home-schooled.  And while we have a tremendous support system of friends and family who have walked the road before us, it is an entirely new journey for our little family.  Add to it the fact that while home-schooling is increasingly common, Stay At Home Dads are still somewhat rare, and Home-school Dads even rarer.  And it begins to feel a bit like we are pioneers.  Though I like to think of myself as one who goes against the flow and thinks for myself, my first born nature rears its norm-following head once in a while and surprises me!  Being so "unique" is nerve wracking!

Are any of these things good reason not to proceed?  Certainly not!  But what a big step we're taking!  I can only look around in awe and shake my head.  I really feel like Columbus on the Nina... or perhaps Caspian on the Dawn Treader.  Yes, that's it: something more romantic and Narnian than actual history.  An adventurer setting out for new and foreign lands. 

At the beginning of this year, I wrote in an email to a friend:

I am in such a strange frame of mind facing a new year. I always have a little vision/dream/snippet-expectation of what is ahead and for the first time since I can remember I have none of that. I feel completely in uncharted territory. No picture I try-on mentally fits…  for the first time in recent memory I can’t generate anything to set my heart on the way I normally seem to be able to.
I guess it’s good. It all feels a little tenuous and disorienting. I keep trying to think of a word for the year ahead and the only one that comes to mind is precipice.  More accurately, it's as though last year was the precipice. [...]So what does that make 2013?  The abyss.  No.  That doesn't fit. It really sounds like it should be negative and scary, but it doesn’t feel negative or scary. It’s more like… the great unknown.   I think I have always lived my life walking along IMAGINING what the road ahead would look like—and in the end of course, despite my imaginations life has unfolded. I have both trusted the Lord for His plans and not trusted Him, but life has unfolded nonetheless. "A man's heart plans his way…" I don’t know if it’s because so few of my plans have come to fruition, and the loss of them has hurt or if its because I really am actually believing the enduring goodness of the Lord more than ever before, or because I am living so far outside the life I imagined as a little girl but whatever the reason I don’t have a playbook and I am actually okay with it. 

Little did I know that by mid-year so very much would have changed.  There is such freedom in life unfolding in a completely unexpected way.  It's so much easier to rely on the plans my heart lays when things tend to be moving in the general direction of those plans.  It's another exercise entirely to set off into places I could have never imagined.  It will be fun, it will be scary, it will build our faith and strengthen our character in ways we cannot, even now foresee.  What a privelage!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What I am Reading

Just a little glimpse at what I have found this week around the web. Today alone I found so much encouragement, that I just have to share!  I am thinking I might do a post like this every so often.

I subscribe to Laura Markham's Aha Parenting Newsletter and always find her encouragement to be a breath of fresh air:

Her article, "Your Child, Better Behaved in 3 Days" is just one more reason.  "Kids are a bit like little geiger counters. They live for our emotional energy -- positive or negative. So why, as parents, do we give most of our energy to what's going wrong? Even when we do catch our child doing something right, look at the amount of energy that's behind our responses to bad behavior ("How many times do I have to tell you?!") versus our positive acknowledgments ("Nice job, dear.")"

Mothering is an wonderful resource for...  as their tagline says, "The Home for Natural Family Living" and I read many articles and get so many ideas from the site and community.  Today I found this gem, by Beth Berry: 10 Great Ways To Be An Unhappy Mom.  Couldn't agree more!

I also read something from Huffpost: Parents just about everyday. I don't always agree, but I love the richness of perspectives and I love the freedom that comes with realizing that all of us feel like we're doing it wrong at some point.  Devon Corneal's Lessons In Futility had me giggling from the get go, and nodding because I am definitely guilty of some of these!

Lastly, I have to talk to you about Wyn Magazine, an online magazine providing resources and hope for mental and emotional healing.  June is the first month of this magazine, and I am already eager for the next issue.  Contributor Evita Gahagan's Reaching Out Of Postpartum Depression resonated with me deeply.  I plan to share some of my own battle with post-partum depression here on my blog in the future, but so many of Evita's words could have been my own.  I look forward to seeing what will come from this incredible resource!

Disclaimer: This is just what I'm reading.  Nothing more, nothing less.  My views and opinions are solely my own.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Juggling Faith, Home & Work-- Part 2: Practical Tips

In Part I, I shared a bit about the faith piece of this juggle.  Here are a few things that have helped me with home & work*:

1) Outsourcing. It works in business, it works at home. I realized that while cooking for my family and decorating my home are important to me, CLEANING it really isn't. Do I want it clean? Absolutely. Do I get stressed and start to feel like my life is falling apart if it isn't? Sadly, yes. Do I feel a sense of loss if I am not the one cleaning it? HECK-NO, Techno!

When I discovered that I could pay someone $20 a week to spend 2 hours a week cleaning my home (we keep it tidied, she cleans), I kicked myself for not having done this sooner. 2 hours doesn't sound like much, and it might not work for you, but it's made all the difference for me! To know that my house will get vacuumed, mopped & dusted, sheets will be changed and the bathrooms will be cleaned and trashes emptied at least once a week takes a bigger weight off my shoulders, and gives me back way more than 2 hours per week with my family.

We found our house cleaner through They not only assist with locating a provider who does what you need and is available when you need then, but also provide templates for interviewing and make checking backgrounds and references easy.
The next "outsourcing" plan I have is to utilize the Wash & Fold service at our local laundromat. My husband currently works from home about 80% of the time, so he usually gets the washing done, and then we fold laundry while catching up on Dr. Who TV after our son is in bed. But there are weeks where he isn't home and that leaves us with a weekend full of folding. I'm thinking if it's not too cost prohibitive, it will be well worth having more time together as a family!

2) My Slow Cooker. You could hire a cook to make tonight's dinner and tomorrow's lunch each day, or you can meal plan and use your slow cooker. There are lots of great websites out there to suit your family's needs (my current favorites are, and I love to cook, but not after working a 9 hour day, when cooking means I'm NOT playing with my little boy(who is increasingly less interested in cooking with Mom than he is in Legos) and don't always follow recipes-- but having a recipe and the ingredients on hand mean that your husband or teen can even get the Crock Pot going. I feel silly for how jubilant I am about this, but there are few things more peace inducing after a long day of work, than to walk in the door to find dinner already made!

A word about meal planning. If you read any Mommy Blogs at all (for Moms working outside the home or otherwise) SOMEONE has told you to do it. Meal planning is the one thing that can save you money and help you eat better. You don't have to be strict or formal about it (we are almost NEVER eating what we "should" be on the day my meal plan says, but having the ingredients saves us from eating out). Just figure out what works for your family and do it.

There are lots of pay programs to help with this, most of which you can get with a coupon or discount if you look (I have used and in the past). But now that I've been doing it for a while, and am shopping more online, I find it just as easy to fill in an online template (like this one from Organized Home with my family's favorites).

3) Grocery Shopping Online. I used to live in a major metropolitan area, and often used Safeway's grocery delivery to prevent my family from starving. It can easily be done on a lunch break or before bed. Other stores in your area may offer a similar service and even though there's usually a small fee I always managed to find a coupon and they often run promotions to allow you to skip the fee. I found that using this service I actually saved money-- because I could buy only what we needed and skip the impulse buys that come from shopping tired and hungry on a Friday night dragging a kid along.

Then I moved to a smalltown where grocery delivery wasn't available and languished for years. UNTIL! Until we got an Amazon Prime membership. In addition to the streaming and free kindle books I have been thrilled with having free two-day shipping!

Though we try to eat as little processed/packaged foods as possible there are lots of items we buy all the time that are available on Amazon. I buy all of our lunch snacks, juice, herbs, spices and many of our toiletries online. They even have the option of setting up automatic delivery for items you purchase regularly. This saves us time & gas money traveling to two different natural food stores in the nearest city (50 miles away) and it's all easily done from the comfort of my couch! You do have to make sure that what you're buying is "Prime Eligible" or an "Add-on" (free shipping with $25 or more in purchases) and there are always going to be items that it's cheaper to buy in person, but it is saving our family lots of money and time!

Now when I go to the grocery story, it's just for meat and the small amount of produce we don't buy locally in our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program.

Which brings me to my next point. See if there's a program near you here ( We are now eating locally-grown, organic food at prices we can actually afford (no small feat!) and I pick it up just down the street from my house each week!

Bonus: We are supporting local agriculture and taking a stand against Genetically Engineered food. (You can also take a stand by supporting organizations like the Center for Food Safety ( Protecting our food supply is one of the ways I get political.

Not all CSA's are created equal, but at the one we currently use we fill our "basket" online each Monday and pick up or veggies & sprouted wheat baked goods each Wednesday.

What helps you juggle all the life throws at you?

*I make lots of referrals in this post, mostly because I am a passionate promoter of things that work for me-- I have in no way been compensated for any of these recommendations. Yes, I am genuinely excited about some of the things available to us in the modern age that can make being a working mom easier! :)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Juggling Faith, Home & Work--Part 1

I have to be clear that I do this some days FAR better than others! Not long ago, my Facebook status was: "This morning I managed to shower (Including washing my hair and shaving my legs), get dinner in the crock pot, get dressed and ready including makeup, and get out the door on time. If the world spins off it's axis I'm sorry!" All that to say that I have been known to cut corners where I can (and if personal hygiene falls into that category from time to time, so be it!)

I am mentioning the "faith piece" seperately because though it is not seperate per se, it is the most needful for me, and also the most oft neglected.  If I am not seeking first, "all these things" fall by the wayside.  Including my mental and emotional health.  Talking about it in these terms makes it sound so much less organic and in and through everything than it really is.  But it is something I must be intentional about, or it will get neglected. 

I will admit that there are weeks I spend far more brain-power juggling work and home and rushing about like Martha than I do remembering the one thing that is needful (Luke 10:38-42). But, I have found that reading the Bible even for a bit, each morning just after waking helps me focus my heart on what matters the most early in my day. And when I start my day focused on Him, my heart goes to Him throughout the day. I love YouVersion, and while I admit to being behind on my reading plan, if the goal is connection with Jesus not checking off a box, having a reading plan has done its job.
Another critical factor for me is communion with other believers. Yes. Attending church on Sunday is a critical piece, but having women in my life that send a text or an email, or to share a phone call or cup of cofee with is something I could thrive spiritually without. We are made to be in community!
Beyond that I believe there is something to be said for quieting your life and giving yourself time to listen.  I will write more about this in the future.  But for now, I will say that sometimes turning off the constant stream of TV, phone and social media always helps me find the time I need to seek His face.

Later this week I'll share practical tips that help me juggle home & work.  What helps you seek Christ in the midst of a busy life?

Friday, June 14, 2013

My Story...

Though I am beyond blessed with a husband who loves Christ and our family deeply, a passionate, intelligent, sensitive, SPIRITED little boy and all our needs are met. I have been discontent because my life does not look the way I expected it to.

I am a planner by nature, and have only developed this skill set further as an Executive Assistant. I support the President of a manufacturing company who definitely appreciates it! My husband and son appreciate it as well-- because it keeps our life orderly (when it works!). I have even, at times been called upon by friends to assist with planning and organization. But over time and with the grace of God, I have realized that I have surrendered my joy at the feet of an idol of my own making, "THE-WAY-I-THOUGHT-THINGS-WOULD-BE".
Even as I type these words my mind goes to my sweet son, who at 6, is getting better at dealing with the bumps that life throws at him; but who, at 4 would reel in devastation if we ran out of his favorite cereal. "But I was expecting Panda Puffs!!", he would sob, "I wasn't thinking of TOAST!" Yikes. I needn't wonder where he got that from!
Though instead of weeping for the loss of cereal:
I struggled with my career because life circumstances, choices, and frankly the direction of the Lord led me in a direction that did not include finishing college. (I plan to eventually, but as an honor student this was a tough pill to swallow. There's more to this story, but I digress).

I struggled with being single into my late 20's because I'd always planned to marry young (who can plan such things?!).  Instead I married at the ripe old age of 26 (Ha!  Right on trend with the median age), but it seemed older because my three closest friends and my younger sister had married nearly 5 years prior.

I struggled with my pregnancy because we planned to wait until we'd been married for two years to get pregnant, and instead I got pregnant two weeks after our honeymoon.
I struggled with the birth of my son, because I had a natural, mid-wife attended, water birth planned, and my breech son was delivered via C-section.  And lets not even begin to describe my horrific battle with post partum depression.
I struggled with mothering my newborn because it's hard!  And because of post-partum depression related bonding issues which were only compounded by the fact that I've been babysitting since I was 12, and LOVED babies, I was even the "mother hen" among my friends.  Motherhood was going to be easy and natural for me.  So many things I knew before I had kids.
I struggled with being working mother because I had always planned to be a stay at home mom, (my Mom was, after all!). But our financial situation at the time and much, more importantly, the clear direction of the Lord to my husband and I  after prayerful consideration, meant that I would work part-time until my son was three, and go back full-time after that point.
Lest you think that my life has been a series of disappointments let me assure you, it has not been. Each one of these diversions from THE-WAY-I-THOUGHT-THINGS-WOULD-BE has led me to meet people, have experiences and learn lessons that I would not have otherwise. It is not what I expected, but it is so much more! I have had to lean on Jesus. My walk with Him has grown ever richer, undoubtedly BECAUSE of these struggles-- not in spite of them.

I have laid out the circumstances above to highlight where my heart has struggled. In truth, the crux of my struggle is the same as Eve's: to believe that God's plan for me is good, even when my own ideas seem better.  (Genesis 3)   I have learned (and am learning every day) to hold my plans loosely.  I may be smart and capable and I have lots of good ideas about what is good for me, and what is good for my family, but God is infinitely smarter and more capable, and He knows the beginning from the end!
So where am I now? Well the truth is, that I do still plan, aspire and dream, and I don't believe this is wrong.    There are a great many things I still hope to do, and beautiful new ideas unfurling daily, but I endeavor to lay each one of those aspirations at His feet, and say not my will but Thine.