What I Learned in August

What I Learned in August

Oh look, a Smurf cottage!

August ended being a jammed packed month of travel, celebrating, launching and moving into a new chapter of my life. August surprised me in many big and small ways, even the muggy weather abated for a brief respite of gorgeous low humidity days.  

Here’s to small beginnings and small endings!

I began August with an amazing trip to Brussels!

100 percent!
 

I fell in love with Brussels, Belgium in August and I fell hard!  Amazing chocolates, frittes & waffles don’t hurt either!

But my first love hasn’t budged and has only gotten stronger…

Five years!

We celebrated our Fifth Anniversary in Brussels.  Here’s what I’ve learned about marriage with my beloved for these five years…being single for all those years was worth it, every minute…because choosing wisely trumps choosing quickly, conveniently, desperately. Nothing is more powerful than two people who stand in agreement on core beliefs.  

While we aren’t the same by any means, it still catches me off guard slightly how well I chose, when the tough times come and reveal his strength and wisdom.  

I helped launch Emily P. Freeman’s new book Simply Tuesday!

  

I learned it takes a lot of people to properly launch a book these days through social media!  Simply Tuesday is teaching me so much about embracing my smallness, letting go of outcomes, and knowing God is with me in the small, as well as the big moments of my life.  

Another launch occurred…

Made with much love!
 

Empty Nest is a real thing and I chat about it here.  I loved hearing from others going through empty nest as well!  Let’s keep in touch!

High School Cross Country is a Blood Sport

High school girls at the start!
 
After taking a break from cross country in grade and middle schools, we experienced our first high school meet this past Saturday.  Oh. My. Word.

Gone are the days of cheering on your runner amongst the massive sea of other runners. 

We were shocked to hear parents yelling at their daughters to push harder, not to let that runner pass her and to not fall behind if she wanted to finish strong. Parents.  

And not only parents but I witnessed a grandmother yelling at her granddaughter berating her as she ran.

At the finish line I witnessed way too many girls in tears not because they were in pain, but because their pain in the butt parents put way too much pressure on them. 

PSA:  Parents, runners run against themselves. Their time. Yelling at them unmercifully as they race actually demotivates them. So for the love, stop it.  Now.  

I know there’s college scholarship money in cross country; but seriously, you try running a race with a loved one yelling what you yelled to your child and see how well you perform!

End of rant.

What did you learn this August?!!


For Your Weekend | End of August Edition

 

Minnie taking her umpteenth nap!
 
The end of August is upon us and many are back in the rhythms of school, carpool, after school activities and open house nights!  

Here’s some fun, helpful links for when you get a chance this weekend for your own break!

This popped up on Beth Moore’s Twitter Timeline this week!  You can follow Beth Moore here on Twitter where she’s always encouraging, motivating and sassy, but this made me laugh out loud!

  
 

I feel ya, little fella!!
 
   

Project Runway! ?  That’s all I’ll say here, but if you’ve watched the latest episode ???!!!!! Let’s discuss in the comments below!

Today is the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Where were you when Katrina hit?  I was living in Atlanta at the time and heard and saw the repeated dire National Weather warnings and watched in horror when people weren’t evacuated and the resulting devastation. 

My new favorite App is Tabata Stopwatch Pro

  

If you’re doing basic interval training or tabata workouts the free version (the one I have) is perfect!  You can use your music playlist and the app will count down your rest/workout periods.  You have to go pro for variable timed workouts but for my tabata workout, this app is simple and just the thing!

We cheered on our Bowling Green Little League team via ESPN2, but their dream came to an end. Super proud of these boys and Bowling Green will celebrate them tomorrow on their home baseball field!

Loved this blog post from Gretchen Rubin Do You Do Your Best Thinking in the Bath Tub?  And yes, I think I do!!

In light of the horrific shootings in Virginia this week, Emily P. Freeman’s guest post on The Art of Simple on the subject of being a slow processor should be required reading for anyone itching to post about a tragedy and take a political stand (either side). Let’s sit with it for a while, counter to all the culture, to sift and sort what’s really going on and when we really have all the facts. 

Here’s hoping your weekend is sunny, fun and in the midst of hustle, you take a snapshot of the chaos and embrace it too!

Five Minute Friday | Alone

Five Minute Friday | Alone

On Fridays I join Kate Motaung’s link up and with other writers write for 5 minutes on the weekly prompt. This Friday’s word is…Alone. 

So many feet have traveled these cobblestones through the years and here I stand alone .

Alone can feel so, well, lonely.  Not only can one be alone physically in a crowded room, or geographically far from the maddening crowd; but, one can now be alone even while using social media. 

Alone can be healthy. Jesus left the crowds and his closest friends to go to the lonely places to spend time with the Father.  Jesus made time to be alone. Spending time alone is a necessary step in order to spend time with others. 

Alone can be freeing. We will all go through a season where everything is stripped away and you find yourself standing alone. Alone in the Truth. Alone in your circumstance. Alone. 

Alone can never be really alone. When we follow Jesus, we are never truly alone. Emmanuel, God with us. Always. And while we may feel alone at times, Jesus is standing with us. Giving us the strength to endure, persevere and continue standing. 

When everything’s stripped away, it’s surprising how clearly you see Jesus. Surprising how He’s not where you thought He was…in the “blessings” or the job or even in some once imagined godly leader…but in His Word, His Truth, His Presence. 

There’s beauty in the alone.  

On Being the Adult, Experiencing Empty Nest & Strategies to Thrive

On Being the Adult, Experiencing Empty Nest & Strategies to Thrive

Last week we hit a new milestone.    

A new adventure awaits!
 

We loaded the minivan and moved my stepdaughter into the dorm.  Even after a week, I can’t even begin to write the words of how that day, the whole experience felt; but, if you’ve already passed this milestone, you know.

We are now practically empty nesters. A quick Google search for empty nester always mentions freedom!  Celebrate it!  

Serendiptiously, I had binged Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcasts while flying back from Belgium and one her quotes lept into my brain:

“Secret of Adulthood:  Make sure the things we do to make ourselves feel better don’t make us feel worse.” -Gretchen Rubin

Admittedly, when you’re an adult, there’s lots of things that can make you feel better in the moment but later on will definitely make you feel worse. 

During the college’s move in weekend, my husband stop by the grocery store near the campus and commented to the checkout cashier that soon the students would be back. The cashier agreed and commented, “This week, it will be all the moms coming through buying ice cream because they’ve left their babies at school!”

Hmmm…many of us adults seek comfort in food, staying up too late or other vices and eventually pay the price.  

Empty nest isn’t an excuse to be careless.  It’s time to be the adult. 

As if this quote didn’t wake me up to the pitfalls of extra time on my hands, we also got the message from the school!

We went to the parent meeting and this was one of the handouts: 

Nothing like facing reality head on!
 

Sitting there in the college’s auditorium, flipping through this homesickness brochure, I quickly realized that although it was meant to be a resource for the parents… a roadmap on monitoring their student’s homesickness, I realized it was also for the parents on how to navigate their   homesickness away from their student. 

Contained within the trifold paper, the seasoned counseling professor had this gem Pillars of Good Health. Again, written for the parent monitoring their student but also good advice for the parents as well.  

Here are the Pillars of Good Health:

  • Proper Sleep 8-10 hours a night
  • Exercise At least 3 times per week
  • Eating Small healthy meals more often
  • Thinking Correctly Positive self-esteem
  • Proper Hygiene Use those showers…brush those teeth!

Given hygiene is normally not a problem for adults, the rest of the list looks like pretty sound advice.  How often do adults follow the first 4 pillars of good health?  

This new season motivates me to get more sleep, exercise more, and thoughtfully plan healthy meals.

Empty nest can also bring about negative emotions as well.  Parents can fall into depression or even lose their sense of purpose because she was Living. For/Through. The. Child. 

Adults need to self manage their own health.

I’ve been flying some lately and was reminded of the safety instruction to place the oxygen mask on yourself first before assisting others.  

Perspective is everything!

Self care combats against depression or loss of purpose.Heck, self care is needed for every parent of kids out there, whether at home or at college! 

Practicing self care is blogged about almost daily, but how many of us in real life actually practice it?
Of course, I must take care of myself first. But when my agenda is interrupted by a phone call to pick up a child because the plans have changed, self care pretty much gets shoved aside. 

Empty nest is the perfect time to begin the habit of self care. And guess what?  I’m actually doing it because I do have that extra time in my days to take care of myself!

Intentionally, I finally drew that Epsom salt bath (after buying the salts over a year ago)!  My husband and I biked the entire Mammoth Cave bike trail!  We are getting 8-10 hours of sleep now! Yippee!! 

If your nest isn’t at the empty stage yet but the kids are headed back to school, I feel you too. 

Embrace the new {school} routine.

 Sit down with pen and paper and analyze how your day/week is divided up.  Use Gretchin Rubin’s quote as a jumping off point. Ask yourself “are these activities making myself/my spouse/my child feel better or feel worse?”  Eliminate one activity that makes you feel worse. If you are in the mix, with no empty nest in sight, also eliminate one activity that makes your spouse/kid feel worse. 

Review the 5 Pillars of Health and honestly ask yourself how you can improve in at least one area and one concrete step towards that improvement. 

Above all, give yourself some grace. Nobody’s life is lived perfectly, so embrace the messiness and let go of your outcomes of what it all is supposed to look like! 

I’d love to hear your strategies in coping/thriving through empty nest!  Comment below and let’s keep the conversation going!

    For Your Weekend | Dog Days of August Edition

    For Your Weekend | Dog Days of August Edition

     

    So much green in late August and beauty !
     
    Here in Kentucky we’ve caught a temporary break in the hot muggy days!  Hope you’re catching the low humidity as well and soaking in these last golden days of summer.

    My hometown Little League team is playing in the World Series! Our own Bowling Green, Kentucky Little League team (Great Lakes) is playing right now to keep their hopes alive!  Go Bowling Green East!

    That’s a while lot of look…and not successful.

    Project Runway is back! And I’m all caught up!  I’ve watched this show from the beginning and love, love, love it!  Any favorites yet?!! #makeitwork

      
    Emily P. Freeman’s new book Simply Tuesday launched this week and there’s still time to get a free small group discussion guide!

     

    The list keeps growing…
     
    Rising Strong by Brene Brown launches on the 25th!  What a great title!  Another book added to my growing reading list!  What do you recommend?

    Have a fabulous weekend with the people you love!!

    Five Minute Friday | Finding My New Normal

    Five Minute Friday | Finding My New Normal

    On Fridays I join Kate Motaung’s link up and with other writers write for 5 minutes on the weekly prompt. This Friday’s word is…Find

    My latest prayer request, written a day before this word prompt!
     

    As the hot, humid and itchy days of summer begin to move towards fall…I’m keenly aware that I’m in the middle of trying to find my new normal.

    It began several months ago when I left my job and continues as my middle stepdaughter has moved into the dorm and my husband and I find ourselves  practically empty nesters. 

    We got here fast. And though each life changing event has been positive and life giving;  still, the events produce a certain disequilibrium for me…how do I order my days, my weeks, my life now?

    Thankfully, I haven’t lost my faith in God and am so grateful for His Grace and Mercy. Instead, during my prayer time, I am asking Him for the next step, next path, next road.

    And what I hear Him speak, through his Word and the Holy Spirit,  is to continue to abide in Him and keep taking my daily small steps forward, trusting Him to reveal the bigger plan in His time. I’m learning to embrace  my smallness and let go of outcomes, as Emily P. Freeman puts it.

    And so here I rest, my identity not in a title or a task, but being small and letting go of my expectations.  And during this time I have found that when I completely let go of outcomes, then I truly am trusting and fully putting my faith in Jesus

    Postcard from Brussels 

    Postcard from Brussels 

      

    It’s been a week since our return from Brussels, Belgium and I’m still processing all we saw and did. Until I post my in depth, detailed Guide to Brussels, here’s a lovely postcard from a city and country that’s stolen my heart!

    Brussels’ architecture is stunning.

       

        
       

    Brussels’ lovely parks are lush and scattered throughout the city.

       

       

      

    Brussels doesn’t take itself too seriously!

      

    I heart Brussels!! xoxo

    By the way…the deadline for entering the Simply Tuesday book giveaway ends TONIGHT at MIDNIGHT Eastern Saving Time!

      

    Click here and complete the 2 steps:

    1. Sign up for Oak Grove Social posts,

    And

    2. Comment in the linked post  what your typical Tuesday looks like!

    Winner will be announced tomorrow, Friday, August 21, 2015!

    Good luck!

    Giveaway is now closed and winner has been contacted! Thanks for all who entered!

    Tuesday Tips | Healthy,  Quick & Easy Back to School Dinner

    Tuesday Tips | Healthy,  Quick & Easy Back to School Dinner

     

    Even better than learning their ABC’s would be my personal minion to make dinners!
     
    We are already in the back to school grind around here in Kentucky and one pesky thing that always  catches me off guard is a healthy, quick and easy dinner when everyone’s coming in from all directions and the teens want. to. eat. NOW!

    But…I can’t go any further without mentioning…it’s Tuesday! The Tuesday where today Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman is available to buy!!  And,  you can enter here for a chance to win this book! 

    OK…back to the quick, easy and healthy school night dinner!!

     

    Starvation strategy whilst I’m preparing the said dinner!
     
    This veggie/cheese/cracker/whatever appetizer plate has been a lifesaver and game changer when famished stomachs hit the door wanting dinner NOW! (See a theme here?).

     In the morning, I chop up red peppers or cucumbers/carrots/celery and then when we get home, throw the veggies on a tray, add the wheat thins, cubed cheese and pistachio nuts (or olives) and then add my secret weapon…yogurt ranch dip dressing!  I do get the good stuff in the refrigerated produce section because my husband hates yogurt but he loves this dip!!

    While they’re munching on this awesome tray, it buys me time to make this simple, fast and health meal…pizza!  Yes, pizza’s always easy & a winner but this is much healthier!

     Bethann’s Tomato Basil Pesto Pizza

    This easy meal will add years & sanity to your life!
     
    Ingredients:

    • Whole wheat pizza crust (make sure it says 100 % whole wheat)
    • Fresh mozzarella (for extra quickness, buy the presliced version)
    • Cream cheese, softened(I try to always buy organic)
    • Fresh basil pesto (you can find it interesting deli refrigerated area or refrigerated pasta section)
    • Fresh tomatoes (I got mine from my Dad’s garden!)

    First, I slice the tomatoes and lay them on paper towels to help dry them out a bit.

     

    So delicious!
     
    Next, spread soften cream cheese for the first layer.

     

    I definitely do not use the whole brock of cream cheese! I could, but then it wouldnt be healthy!
     
    Then, spoon and spread on the basil pesto…

    Yum! I also sparing spread the pesto…a little goes a long way!

    Now it’s time for those gorgeous tomatoes!

      
    And finally…the fresh mozzarella!!   

     
    You could sprinkle chopped up fresh basil here, but I’m all about easy so I just put some black peoper on top! Then pop it into the oven and bake per the crust’s directions.

     

    The finished product!
     
    It couldn’t be easier…assembling this bad boy took maybe 5 minutes?!

     

    Sooooooo gooooooood!
     
    The adults did drizzle balsamic vinegar on top of the slices and that made this simple pizza even more fabulous!!

    Of course, you can add any kind of topping you wish.  The cream cheese/pesto base is amazing and I’ve made this pizza with bacon, spinach and shredded Italian cheeses as toppings as well!

    What quick, easy and healthy dinner meal has been saving your life lately?  Share in the comments below!!

    Simply Tuesday Book Review & Giveaway!!

    Simply Tuesday Book Review & Giveaway!!

     

    Found my bench/swing for Simply Tuesday!
     
    Y’all I cannot believe tomorrow is the book release for Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman !!!

    It’s been such an honor for me to be a part of her launch team and some of the first to read this gem of a book!   I cannot wait for it to be released tomorrow and for all those who will be reading it and how it will shape their souls and lives. Emily’s book has already has done that for me. Seriously. 

    Emily thoughtfully and thought provokingly writes about all the small, mundane and ordinariness of our lives and encourages us to embrace it. The book’s title in part comes from the recognition that Tuesday is the smallest day of the week where the ordinary everyday life happens.

     
    In a culture (including church culture here) where bigger, better, louder and shinier demands the spotlight, Emily points the reader to Jesus and His word picture that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. Small, tiny, little. 

    “Small is the position of my soul, the posture by which I approach others, God, and myself. When I’m small, I know I can’t control opinions, manipulate outcomes, or force my agenda on others. When I’m small, I can move into the world confident as a person I most deeply am because I don’t move into the world alone. 

    If this is true, then small is my new free.”

    -Emily P. Freeman 

    Emily divides Simply Tuesday into 5 parts and within those 5 parts she provides the reader with an invitation, a prayer and questions for further reflection.  Her book is food for the soul…spiritual discipleship that guides the reader to reflect, ponder and respond to the Truths shared. 

    I could have underlined and highlighted the entire book!  My margins bear scribbles of “YES!!!” and “me too”. 

    Nearly every page looks looks like this!
     

    Simply Tuesday should also be a must read for those in ministry, whether serving as a volunteer or on staff. Emily writes at length the problem with big=God’s favor and small=not of God in Christian circles.  We are small…we do not control or manipulate the outcomes. As Emily writes…

      
    So where does one go when a small thing stays a small thing?

    “What if your big break is really a breaking from big?” -Emily P. Freeman

    Hmmmmm.

    See what I mean, her writing really makes one ponder!  I’m currently rereading Simply Tuesday  again!

    Emily’s words have already transformed and shaped my soul by pointing me to God’s Truth!  

    It’s definitely one thing to agree intellectually that you’re to embrace your smallness, but entirely another matter to live it out!  Recently, I painfully felt my smallness in a challenging situation.  Emily’s words resonated through my head…yes I’m small…I cannot control this outcome…God is with me in this moment. And through prayer and feeling God’s presence and accepting my smallness, I felt such peace because I didn’t have to make myself big, my presence big or my voice loud.  

    Simply Tuesday would also make an awesome small group book club or Bible study book choice! Hop on over to www.simplytuesday.com to sign up for wonderful resources from Emily, including how you can get your own book discussion guide. 

    I’m so excited to be able to give away Simply Tuesday on my blog! 

    Here’s how to enter:

    1. Subscribe to Oak Grove Social’s blog email notification for new posts (located in the right sidebar)

    And

    2. Comment on this post below by answering the following question:

    “What does my ordinary Tuesday look like?

    These 2 completed actions will get you entered for the chance to win a free copy of Simply Tuesday

    Deadline for entry is Thursday, August 20 at midnight Eastern Savings Time!!

    The winner will be announced Friday!!  Good luck!

    Giveaway is closed and winner has been contacted.  Thanks for all who entered!

    No compensation was exchanged for my opinions, all opinions are genuinely my own!  The giveaway book has been purchased with my own money…that’s how much I love this book!!

    For Your Weekend | Mid-August Edition

    For Your Weekend | Mid-August Edition

     

    Celebrated our 5th Anniversary while in Brussels!
     
    During these dog days of summer, hope y’all are keeping cool and savoring the lazy last days before school begins again!

    Here are some links for your weekend browsing!!

      
    Y’all, Simply Tuesday releases in 3 days!!!

    So honored to have been among the first to read it!

    My biggest takeaway…God’s Kingdom always starts small, and I can embrace my own smallness, trust God with the outcomes because sometimes small beginnings lead to small endings.  We aren’t supposed to manipulate what a “successful” ending looks like, because following Jesus often looks like a failure to the world. 

    So much more goodness within the pages of this book!  You can preorder now at all online bookstores and check out even more resources on the book’s website:

    www.simplytuesday.com
    Also, meet up with our community by following the hashtag #itssimplytuesday on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook on Tuesdays!

    #simplytuesday

     

    Awesome podcast hosted by Tsh Oxenrider of “The Art of Simple” blog
     
    One of my newfound jams is listening to podcasts whilst long car rides, household chores, and too long airplane rides!  All of the podcast episodes are great, but one in particular I’m highlighting here.  

    On Episode 6 Simple Show Tsh chats with Leigh Kramer about enneagrams (personality types).  This topic is interesting in and of itself, but Leigh said something that has stuck with me. Enneagram is based on ancient early Desert Fathers who took the 7 deadly sins (wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, gluttony) and added 2 more sins…deceit and fear. 

    So…if we seriously consider fear a sin, how would we live differently as followers of Jesus?  Thought provoking and I’m pretty sure you’ll see a post here about it soon!

    The shiny, bright Atomium, one of the symbols of Brussels, Belgium

    We just returned from an amazing week long trip to Brussels, Belgium!  I’m still in the middle of laundry and adjusting back to our time zone, but until I post my comprehensive guide to all things Brussels, check out my Instagram feed here !

    I’m blessed to be able to travel and explore so you can follow along for Brussels pics with the hashtags #oakgrovesocialtravels #brussels #belgium  .

    And just for the record, I totally ❤️ Brussels!!

     

    I’m not gonna post a photo of the cicada, but believe me…they’re in this photo somewhere!
     
    The cicadas are back!!! And, they are rather noisy neighbors!  Information about 13 year/17 year cicadas is all over the place as there are also cicadas that come out each summer. 

    Nevertheless, these neighbors seem extra noisy this summer and a link  here from the University of Kentucky’s entomology department seems to verify that in my corner of Kentucky, we have the pleasure of hosting the 13 year cicadas!

    So, if you’re in a woodsy area, enjoy the cicada sounds (and try not to have a heart attack if they clumsily fly into you)!  Summer is singing its last song, so close your eyes, listen and marvel at how all of creation sings praises to the Creator!