What I Learned in February

What I Learned in February

For being the shortest month of the year, I sure did learn a great deal in February! 

1.  Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Caroll has given me encouragement.   After the unanimous uproar over calling that crazy passing play that was intercepted at the goal line instead of a running play and costing the Seahawks a back to back Super Bowl win,  Coach Pete Carroll stood firm in his decision.  Admitting it was the worst result possible result of calling that play, he took ownership of it, even in the scorching backlash.  Seeing how Carroll has dealt with unimaginable scrutiny encourages me that if Carroll can live to coach another day, so can I.  

2.  If Gathering 2015.  I attended the If Gathering through an If: Local venue and it was spiritually transforming.  Strong, godly women leading other women to a deeper knowledge of God and a call to action.  So many Spirited-filled speakers; but, one speaker and one phrase pierced my heart and life.  When Christine Caine uttered “Dismount that dead horse!” I knew God was speaking directly to me. 

3.  God is with me in the big and little events in my life. 

4.  After over a foot of snow last week, and plenty of snow still hanging around, our local weather forecasters can correctly predict snow at times!!

5.  Tall flat whites are a thing and I heart them

6.  In search of free wi-fi this week, I discovered that the senior citizen coffee gang hangs out at McDonalds in my town.  And, I’m lovin’ it because they are seriously happy and enjoying life in that moment and space!  

7.  The series finale of Parks and Recreation was supremely perfect. So sad to see it go, but I sure do wish I really could purchase Tom’s best selling book, Failure:  An American Success Story, because it literally hits the nail on the head of the current trend that experiencing failure is profitable!  Which, it can be, but doesn’t always happen!

8.  This Follow Lenten devotional guide is drawing me closer to God through these 40 days. 

So many wonderful lessons in February!  I’m so looking forward to March with glimpses of Spring and the  event of March madness!  Go UK Wildcats!!

Thoughtful Thursdays

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His Hands. -Psalm 19:1

 

I captured this sunset at the top of our driveway on my iPhone about a month ago, because it’s beauty literally stopped me in my tracks.  And I am grateful for capturing the sunset image because it reminds me how God’s glory will break into your day, if you stop and pay attention.

Many times I have missed God’s glory because of my own agenda, choosing to focus on myself instead.  And every time I look at this image, I now wonder, “How many times have I missed experiencing God’s glory?”  And the answer is troubling.  Too many times.

During these 40 days of Lent, I am challenging myself to see God’s glory every day, as much as possible. This challenge doesn’t mean just watching sunrises and sunsets, but watching for glimpses of God’s redemption in the stories of my friends.  And the more I look for God’s glory in my friend’s stories, the more I see His glory.

Earlier this week I had a divine appointment with a friend whom when I first met her several years ago, was in serious danger of losing custody of her child.  Today she regained custody of her child, is married, working a full time job where she was recently promoted, and completing her college degree!  God’s glory from ashes is truly beautiful to see in others’ lives.

And when I witness God’s glory in others’ lives, it strengthens my faith that He too will reveal His glory in my own life in His time.  So, the more I look for God’s glory, the more my own faith is strengthened.  And I shudder to think what would happen if I do not declare God’s glory when I see it.

God’s beauty demands our attention.  Jaw dropping attention.  Even when His people do not declare His glory, the skies will.  Fiercely.

Don’t miss God’s glory.  Challenge yourself this week and throughout Lent to watch and be on the lookout for God’s glory in your life and the lives of others.  Report back here.  It will be our own sunrise/sunset celebrations of God’s beauty!

It’s Tuesday!

It’s Tuesday!

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It’s Tuesday and in honor of Emily P. Freeman’s weekly focus on Tuesday moments, I am documenting mine today. You can follow or participate in Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with #itssimplytuesday.

First, I am so happy that Krispy Kreme opened it’s 1,000th store today in Kansas City because nationwide they’re giving everyone who stops by their store a free donut! What?!! Back when I lived in Atlanta, Krispy Kreme meant stopping when the “Hot Now” neon sign was lit! I’m so happy Krispy Kreme finally came back to Bowling Green, Kentucky!

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Second, I am thankful for the free wifi at Starbucks. I’m sipping the pineapple herbal hot tea and it’s delicious!! Definitely worth trying!

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And lastly, ( because points are made in threes, right?) I am thankful for 35 degree temperatures and sunshine today!

How’s your Tuesday going? Is it simple or complicated?

Thawing Out After the Big Snow:  A Prayer for the Week

Thawing Out After the Big Snow: A Prayer for the Week

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This morning as I looked out I finally saw some ground…the snow is melting, although slowly with temps not rising about freezing today.  After a week of snow, more snow, ice and rain…being able to see brown earth in blinding bright snow is welcomed!

Last week’s foot of snow was an unusual and unexpected event here in southern Kentucky.  It forced folks to stay off the roads, conserve electrical use, guard against freezing pipes,  stay inside with their family and slow down.   Ready or not!

Of course, no one really slowed down, with DVRs, the internet and social media readily available.  We all were still connected 24/7.  And yet, things did slow down.  All schools were closed.  Some roads were closed.  Some  businesses were closed.  Severe weather can still bring obstacles that will literally stop us in our car tracks.

Perhaps, though, besides creating obstacles, a huge snowstorm can also create opportunities.  We can seize those moments of stillness, contemplation,  deeper conversations with family members around a kitchen table with no pressure of cutting the conversation short to run that errand, meet that deadline, go to that meeting.

God created the Sabbath…but nowadays, Sabbath is hard to find on a physical day as Sunday is just another day of the week to be fully scheduled.  And yet, His Creation offers “built in” Sabbaths for those who see them.

One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind. (Ecclesiastes 4:6, NASB)

Yes, LORD, this.  We create fists full of labor and futile striving, He gives us rest.  So here’s a prayer for us all this week of thawing out.

Dear Father,

Thank You for Your gift of Sabbath this past week.  May we recognize the snow as a gift, a time to pause, to slow down and draw near to You.

As we journey through this Monday and the rest of our week, may we find the spaces and places where You have called us each to Sabbath rest.  May we be obedient and rest in those spaces and places.  

May we rest easy in Your mercy and grace, new each morning, to meet us where we are and where You  want to lead us.   

May we see Your Kingdom this week and take time to show Your mercy and grace to those who need it most.

In Your Holy Name, Jesus, Amen.

How has the snow given you a Sabbath?  Where has God shown you a Sabbath unexpectedly in your daily schedule?  Share below in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Your Weekend

For Your Weekend

Yay! It’s Friday! Every Friday I list items {in no particular order} that have made my week! For the week of February 16th-February 20th, full of snow, coldness and the prospect of more snow, sleet and rain the below items deserve a place of honor!

1. SNL 40th Anniversary Show & App

If you haven’t watched SNL’s 40th Anniversary show, go straight to your DVR. While there were positives and negatives, overall, exactly what you would want from the host of previous and current cast members. Except for Eddie Murphy. Please, Eddie, made a great movie again, OK? To go along with 40 years, download the SNL App.

As a bonus, a SNL emoji keyboard comes with the app!
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You won’t be sorry!

2.  Follow Lent Devotional by Naptime Diaries
I have already given a shout out for this devotional guide, but after only working through three days, the guide is helping me draw nearer to God.   Printable downloads for the guide can be purchased here.

3.  Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Refreshing Dry Shampoo
Because it’s been crazy cold here and I’m basically snowed in, the only person I’m in contact with is my husband.  This dry shampoo has been a lifesaver this week!  It works just as well as the pricier dry shampoos and doesn’t have a sickly sweet smell that most of the dry shampoos have, for whatever reason.  I buy mine at the local Walmart but you can buy it here.IMG_5699[1]

4. Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips
Going along with the cold weather, avoiding and protecting chapped lips is a MUST. Pardon the brand name, but this lip balm works! I received my sample in a recent Birchbox. A little goes a long way and you will NOT get chapped lips. Pinky promise! You can buy it here.
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5. LL Bean Boots
A college staple back in the day of hiking up the hill through rain and snow. I am so thankful that I purchased a new pair a couple of years ago. The biggest improvement that has been made to these boots is that you can now buy them with Thinsulate! For severe cold weather, these boots are a must. Fair warning, these boots are on backorder, but go ahead and order them…snow will fall again! Go to LL Bean and search for boots! IMG_5703[1]

6.  Chatting at the Sky
Emily Freeman’s blog is perfection and if you need encouragement for space in your soul, check it out.  I highly recommend her latest post “Learning to Walk Without an Agenda” even though this week, my only walking was when I had an agenda (snow and all)!

7.  Apple’s Reportedly Launching an Electronic Car
This announcement just made me laugh out loud this morning!  Seriously,  can Apple just focus on improving the iPhone battery life before trying it in an electronic car?  Here’s a link with all the details:     Bloomberg News

8.  A Warm Fireplace with a Snuggly Cat
After enduring snow, subzero temps and threats of more on the way, this spot on the couch with my cat was the perfect place to be this week! IMG_5701[1]

I hope everyone stays safe and warm this weekend! Share with me in the comments below what has gotten you through your week!

The Life-Changing Magic of Cloth Napkins in Going Green

The Life-Changing Magic of Cloth Napkins in Going Green

Hello Thursday! It’s day 4 of being snowed in under a foot of snow here in southern Kentucky. More snow is headed our way tomorrow, if the weather forecasters are to be trusted ( and unfortunately, they have been dead on)! #bummer

We love living out in the country which well outweigh any drawbacks…like unplowed snowdrift county roads. I’m truly in my happy spot when I’m home and can look outside my window and view God’s beautiful creation!

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Admittedly, one of the practical drawback of living so far out is that our county’s recycling service stops about a mile before our house. Before moving way out, I had always lived where recycling was available. I loved setting my orange bin out. Sadly, I was unable to recycle for several years, even after routinely calling the recycling center to extend their route. Imagine my delight when I learned that our local university offered a community recycling drop off for plastics, paper, glass and cardboard! Their location is perfect and I can now proudly report I’m again doing my part.

Once I fixed my recycling guilt, I began to focus on other areas in our household that could be “green” as well as save money. I knew I had to tackle my biggest addiction…paper towels. I love me some paper towels. But I switched over to using a combination of microfiber cloths and cloth towels for cleaning while saving the paper towels only for the most disgusting messes. You know what I’m talking about!

Even with all that minimizing, my family continued to thwart my efforts by using paper towels for napkins at mealtime. Have you been there? I didn’t know what to do because cloth napkins didn’t seem to be a better solution. Then one evening at a fancy restaurant, it hit me. Placed on the restaurant’s crisp white table linens were black napkins. Yes! Black napkins pretty much disguise most stains ( and my family sure does generate stains) while being chic as well.

So that’s what I’ve been doing for over a year and it’s working like a charm! Here’s a quick tutorial so you too can jump on board!

I bought my black napkins from my local Bed, Bath and Beyond. Mine came 12 to a pack and I bought 2 packs to get me through one week’s worth of meals we eat at home. You may need more or less. These are the same or similar black napkinsto what I purchased, although after a year of use my napkins now measure 14″x14″ instead of 16″x16″. Also, you may notice in the photos, that the edges curl. I’m a no iron kinda gal, so I overlook that. If you need flat smooth edges in your napkins, I recommend a polyester blend.

Here’s the napkin in all its curling edge glory:

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I then fold the napkin in half, like this:

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Next, I fold the napkin into thirds:

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Until it looks like this:

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That’s how I place the napkins with the flatware. Nothing fancy.

As you can imagine, with 24 napkins in a kitchen drawer it can get unruly, defeating the entire purpose of using cloth napkins. Trouble with the door opening, trouble with the drawer closing, trouble with my napkin system! “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo I immediately went to my black napkins in the sticky drawer and made one more fold, like this:

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Just as Marie Kondo preaches, this type of fold allows vertical storage in drawers and the shirt, sweater, napkin or whatnot will continue to stand on its own, like so:

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Seriously, this one folding tip is pretty life changing! The napkin drawer now makes my organizing heart sing every time I open it!

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Is it just me, or do money saving routines/organizing tips make your heart sing as well? Share with me if you try this tip and your own best “green” or organizing tip in the comments below!

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

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Whistling winds awoke me out of a deep sleep early this Ash Wednesday morning. Outside my bedroom window the snow swirled. Fresh snow had covered the tracks on the deck below where only yesterday squirrels had scampered. The weather forecasters were indeed again correct as overnight an additional 1-2 inches were added to the 10 inches of snow that fell on Monday, thanks to snowstorm Octavia. An unusual sight to see in southern Kentucky for sure!

Growing up, Ash Wednesday held no spiritual significance for me as the church where I grew up didn’t mark its observance. I vaguely remember classmates leaving school and returning with smudges on their foreheads. Well that and their comments they couldn’t wait for Easter so they could break their abstaining from chocolate, coke or sweets. Back then, even as a kid, I remember thinking that the practice was odd and disconnected from what Jesus’ work of salvation really meant for all of humanity.

Happily, as an adult, my understanding of Ash Wednesday and the spiritual practice of observing Lent deepened. After participating in Ash Wednesday services with the smudges on my forehead and observing the 40 days of Lent I now understand this ancient Christian practice as a way to intentionally prepare my heart, mind, and soul for Easter…to draw closer to God. Some years I observed Lent while other years I did not.

As I continue to grow and follow Jesus, this year I felt my heart drawing me to observe Lent with more intentionality in preparation for Easter. Just as winter reflects the coldness and hardness of its season, preparation for growth is already taking place underneath a foot of snow! Soon, new growth will emerge in the upcoming weeks. So too, new growth with emerge from my soul as I tend to and prepare the hard edges of my soul with God’s Word during this Lenten season.

My desire to intentionally mark the 40 days of Lent coincided when I came across this resource that Naptime Diaries created. I quickly ordered mine! I am beyond thrilled to begin using this resource today. Although the bound books have sold out, you can still hop over to download a PDF to print for yourself.

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For me, this Lenten season, I will definitely be adding to my spiritual practices to draw nearer to God. Do you observe Lent? If so, How do you observe Ash Wednesday and Lent? Is Lent more about denying yourself during the 40 days or adding a practice to draw you closer to God? Join the conversation in the comments section below!