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December, oh how I love you! It brings colder weather, Chase’s birthday, snow on occasion and the Christmas season! It really is my favorite time of the year! The joys of bundling up with a good book in hand while the fireplace sends off it’s warmth, decorating the Christmas tree, shopping for loved ones in wonderfully decorated stores that are playing those catchy Christmas tunes. And you can’t forget all the fun Christmas movies that are always a great addition to this time of year! There is only one thing that puts a damper on this glorious season… STRESS! We all get stressed from time to time. Those packed shopping malls can be the cherry on top of a stressful sundae. You all know what I am talking about… the crowded walk ways that no one can ever get through without feeling squished. Then there are all the other stresses that can come around this time… budgeting for presents. We all want to be able to afford to give everyone we love something nice for Christmas, but on a nice fee-sable budget The last thing anyone wants is to give a gift that screams budget.

While most of these things are never really that big of a deal, when the moment comes that we feel overwhelmed the stress has finally come and everything is a big deal! Here is a confession… when I am stressed chocolate and I are best friends-especially Reese’s peanut buttercups! I know, this is a terrible habit to form. It’s either the chocolate or crying. Well this month I am attempting to tackle this issue! Month two of my Searching for Simplicity began this week and I am doing the stress fast. Yes, I am well aware that I can not prevent from stressful situations coming my way, but that is not the point of this fast. This month is all about being intentional in how we respond to stress, making it a habit to run to God in prayer instead of our typical responses.

This fast is all about setting aside seven times in my day for prayer, praying over specific subjects during each prayer time. Currently my alarms are set for midnight, 6:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., noon, 3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.! Yes that’s right, my alarm is set for midnight! It won’t be easy, but already in the first week I am amazed at what I have begun to learn about myself, but that I will share with you another time!

 

Photo Credit: Allie Caulfield

Month one, the clothing fast has now come to a close. I can’t believe how quickly it came and went. I’m looking back on those four weeks at all that God taught me and I am thankful. I honestly wasn’t really sure just how much I was going to get out of a clothing fast. I thought that I would only be revealed that I have more than I need. While this was definitely a point that was brought to my attention He didn’t stop there. I learned a lot about myself and I was reminded of points that I had allowed myself to forget. Here are a few things that I learned during my clothing fast.

  1. Tic-Toc Goes the Clock. I did not realize until this fast that I spend WAY too much time deciding what I want to wear. I will stand in my closet just staring at my clothes (confession, sometimes I get tired and I sit on the closet floor). My problem is that I over think it– I might get cold in this… I just wore that last week… that shirt just isn’t that comfortable… and on it goes. During the fast you know what I did? I got up, grabbed one of my seven designated clothing items and BAM! That was that! No fuss, no wasting time, just quick and to the point.   

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    My closet overwhelmed me the first day after this fast!

  2. Cha-Ching. Many items in my closet have been passed on to me, but not all. The point that came to me is just how much money I wasted. Think about it, I am sure that I am not the only one who has multiple pairs of jeans, several cardigans and numerous pairs of shoes. Every item has a price tag. Some might have been on sale… maybe $5 and others more pricey. No matter how you look at it, every item in my closet was money out of my pocket. (This isn’t to say that new items can’t ever be purchased, just put a little thought into it and make sure it is an item that will be used many times and the money would be worth spending.)
  3. The What If’s. I have countless items that I have not worn for at least a year just hanging there, taking up space and getting rejected every morning  Why do I keep these items that I know I have NOT worn and probably will NOT wear? I admit I tend to hold on to it because maybe, just maybe I will wake up one day and want to wear it… it’s the clothing “what ifs” that lurk in my closet! I’ve decided that if it has been at least a year and the clothing has gone unworn then it is time to part our ways.. no more what ifs!
  4. Dress to Impress. When I find myself having trouble picking out something to wear I realized, am I dressing to impress…. myself or everyone else? Does it really matter what other people think of my outfit? No, all that matters is what I think of myself and if I put together an outfit that reflects my style and personality then that is what is important.
  5. Use and Reuse. Confession: I re-wear my jeans a couple of times before I wash them. Yikes, I said that out-loud! I did this even before the fast. But it never occurred to me that this was remotely possible for shirts/cardigans. Apparently it is. Does anyone notice? Nope. Now obviously clothing does get dirty and smelly, but unless that is the case people have no idea. I’ll be honest, I do not intend on continuing this with my shirts now that the fast is over, but I definitely learned that this was possible and the world won’t end.
  6. Just a little Stain. I’m messy! I learned this about myself early in life but it was definitely amplified during this month when I continued to spill food on my very limited wardrobe. I think it is time for me to face the facts and make a conscious effort to be more careful when I eat.
  7. Take Notice. I think it is human nature for us to think that other people think about us more than what is actually true. The fact of the matter is that people think about me and my wardrobe far less than I would tell myself is the case… like when I am picking out clothing for the day and I tell myself that I just wore that last week, the truth is i am probably the only one who will remember that! And honestly if people do notice your clothing it’s not very often someone is going to tell you that you just wore that item… no one said that to me and I had bright, pretty obvious shirts that I continued to repeat.
  8. Less IS More. I survived an entire month on seven articles of clothing and you know what I realized? The world continues, nothing fell apart, and I am satisfied with far less than what I have. The closet full of clothing is a blessing that I do not take lightly anymore, but I can live on a fraction of what is in that closet and be satisfied.
  9. Give More. With this new realization that I can have a wardrobe made up of far less than what I actually have and the numerous items going unused in my closet I want to give away these items more often. Why hoard my clothing for the what ifs? Instead give them to someone who needs them more than I do. I am also finding myself wanting to simply reduce my wardrobe to find a more simple closet not filled with excess. This closet will be purged!
  10. Carry on Luggage. We went on vacation during this fast and you know what I figured out? I always OVER pack! There is simply no reason for me to bring as much stuff as I usually do. Toss a few items in a bag and be done with it! Hand washing an item in a hotel sink if it gets dirty is not the worst thing and it certainly will not ruin the vacation. Less luggage is very freeing on a trip!

Month one has come to a close and now it’s time to begin the next fast of this journey. Month two- the stress fast, spending seven times a day in prayer and reflection to focus less on stress. This begins on Monday!

Chapter One

August 6, 2012 — Leave a comment

I am truly proud to say that my dad has finished his very first novel! Now, this is no small task. If you are a writer then you know 7404623584_660a48e86c_n just how much time and effort is put into every word, punctuation and page to make it exactly how you envisioned it. His first book is The Light of Ordaya by Gary Swensen. This is a fiction fantasy novel and I love reading the words knowing that my dad created it all! To me I look at the finished work of books as art, every word delicately and creatively thought out.  As a writer myself I could not be more proud nor could I be more respectful of his art! If you have a list of books that you are working your way through you should definitely put my dad’s on there! Not only will you get to enjoy the great story but you will be supporting a local writer as well! Happy reading!

Table Tantrums

July 10, 2012 — Leave a comment

Every parent book out there will tell you that the secret to raising a child is consistency. I would have to agree with this statement. BUT, there are some cases where it feels like no matter the consistency, your child is just NOT going to learn anything from the situation and your efforts are completely hopeless. This was such the case last night at our house. It was time for dinner and Eli came running up to the tabel exciteed for his meal. We sit him in his chair put his plate in front of him and immeiately began the tantrum! I made something new for dinner but I had intentionally put sides of potatoes and carrots on his plate, which he normally loves. Every word from his mouth was “no!” He pushed his plate away, we scooted it back, he pushed it away… this was an ongoing process. Throwing the food to the dogs was his next step in his plan of action. Now I don’t know about you but I was completely at a loss, my child has never been a picky eater. I have never dealt with him completely refusing to even try one bite! I had always said that I didn’t want to be a short order cook and make several different meals every night to meet everyone’s taste buds in the house, the kids didn’t have to like what I make but they had to at least try it. Sounded real good before I had any kids… now it’s finally the current chapter in my book. Everything is always easier when you are not facing the situation at the time! So what’s a parent to do when your toddler refuses to even taste dinner? Consistency… right? That’s what everyone will tell you but sometimes it’s just hard when they are in the midst of a tantrum and you are thinking to yourself… is he even learning anything from this? Yes, after an hour Eli did eventually try his dinner after my attempt to dip his potato in ketchup (which grossed me out because I can not stand ketchup, but hey, he tried it!) Whether you have a child that is grown or a newborn, as parents we have all faced or will face nights like these. So remember… while consistency is the key so is supporting each other along our journey in parenthood!

“Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.” Walt Disney

I love to take pictures. In high school I practically always had a disposable camera in my purse and when I went on trips I was picture crazy. I had so many picture frames in my room, plus a bulletin board filled. I still love to take pictures, however now we have a digital camera like so many people do. Our digital camera is great, it’s the kind that snaps quickly like disposable cameras do, you don’t have to wait the five million seconds it takes for other digital cameras to actually take the picture. It’s also big and bulky, but its awesome. I love having it. We did so good taking pictures once a month for Eli’s baby book, I have some in the baby book but still need to have several printed, but at least they are taken and on my computer.

Is it just me or do pictures with a digital camera tend to stay on a computer rather than getting printed? I get my pictures printed less often than I ever used to now that I have the digital camera. I take the picture, load it onto the computer and then tell myself I’ll print them later and then many times I don’t or at least it’s WAY later when they get printed. I don’t ever want to pay to have one or two pictures printed, I always want to wait until I at least have a dozen to make it worth it, so they tend to sit for a while. It’s even worse now with the camera phones. Half the pictures we have of Eli aren’t even with the camera, they are with our phones. Yes you can have those printed, but I’ve already mentioned that process. While I love the ability to delete pictures that didn’t turn out good and pick and choose what I want printed, sometimes I think that it was a little easier to have the disposable camera because you have to get them printed to see anything, there was no uploading to a computer first. Am I the only one who takes forever to have pictures printed?

Photo Credit: Bailey Weaver