23 Reasons to be Grateful Today

local poultry

  1. A visit from the local poultry
  2. My son called me three days in a row
  3. Dark chocolate is still on the healthy list
  4. Hot showers
  5. A mother who texts humorous life updates
  6. A husband who comes home every night
  7. A cat who enjoys catnip mice with abandon
  8. Fire season has moved outdoors
    backyard fire ring
  9. My friend has a new, healthy grandson
  10. The cheerful elderly gentleman sitting next to me at the hairdresser who said life was too short to waste it on complaints
  11. Wrens are making a nest in the birdhouse gourd on our deck
  12. Dishwashers
  13. A friend who hosts weekly Bible studies in her lovely home
  14. Free books
  15. Getting the timeline in my manuscript-in-progress straightened out (because editing sometimes causes as many problems as it solves)
  16. A pastor who laughs a lot more than he frowns
  17. Beethoven
  18. The oak blossoms are (finally!) finished
    oak blossoms
  19. A clam-bake to look forward to
  20. A library that is only 2 1/2 miles away
  21. My son’s mp3 player (from his middle-school years) that still works just fine
  22. Great audiobook narrators
  23. The joy of sharing my thoughts through writing

Continue reading

Are You Trusting in the Boat?

boat

I love a good story, especially one that challenges my thinking.

You are probably familiar with the Biblical account of Jesus calming the storm: He and the disciples are boating across the Sea of Galilee when a storm comes up. A nasty storm, one that has this group of veteran fisherman in a panic. The Sea of Galilee is well known for these sudden and violent storms, which arise from a combination of geographic and thermal characteristics of the lake and surrounding hills.

The storm is real. The threat is not imagined.

And yet, when they awaken Jesus, sure they will die, he scolds them for being afraid. And for not having faith. Continue reading

Who Do You Take For Granted?

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Yesterday we paid homage to our mothers. We sent cards, chatted on the phone, or took them out to brunch. We shared our love and our gratitude for all they do for us.

It’s a nice gesture. I’m all for honoring our mothers. As a mother myself, I understand the kinds of sacrifices mothers make in order to serve their families.

Bravo to all of you who honored your mother yesterday.

But what about all those other people who expend energy every day doing things so that our lives are safer, easier, and more pleasant? Continue reading

Is This Habit Stealing Your Happiness?

procrastination file folders

Photo Credit: Cliph via Compfight cc

Yesterday I put the Christmas lights away. We usually do this in January, but with all the ice and snow this winter we put it off.

And put it off.

When things finally thawed out, I thought about the lights, … and hoped my husband would decide it was time to take care of them.

He didn’t.

So yesterday I stopped procrastinating and put the lights away. Continue reading

What’s Holding You Back?

boy in wheelchair playing tennis

Photo Credit: ericneitzel via Compfight cc

Do you ever get out of bed and decide you don’t feel like facing it today?

Yeah, me too.

Some days I can come up with a million excuses for not exercising, for not facing that blank page, for not getting around to entering my work in that contest …

Some days it feels like there’s an actual force keeping me from doing what I know I ought to do.

That force has a name: Continue reading

Closet Wars: Am I Winning or Losing?

clothes hangers

A month ago I declared war on the clutter in my house.

I have tackled the pantry, kitchen, office, and bedroom, including my side of the clothes closet. I had been feeling pretty good about my closet-pruning efforts, until I began running into posts proclaiming the benefits of the capsule wardrobe.

For those of you who don’t know, a capsule wardrobe is a mini-wardrobe, a collection of thirty-five or so versatile pieces that can be combined to cover any occasion (except maybe a formal ball).

I was both intrigued and skeptical. How can a 33-item wardrobe possibly be sufficient? And who would want to try it?

Some of my Facebook friends, as it turns out. And they seem to love it.

Hmm…

Intrigued, I read this article about one mom’s experiences as she embraced the capsule wardrobe. And then this one, with eight reasons why it’s a good idea.

All right, so I can understand the benefits, and I admit it would be nice to get dressed every morning with the confidence that I look good, but …

I still have my doubts.

I am not so sold out to the minimalist ideal enough that I want to do this out of principle. I’m too lazy to think about doing laundry that frequently. And although I readily admit I won’t miss some of the clothes that are currently in my closet, I suspect I will get bored wearing the same things week-after-week. Limiting my wardrobe to under forty pieces seems a bit drastic.

However, I decided it would be worthwhile to take another hard look at my closet.

clothes in closet

Does it stay, or should it go?

Closet pruning 101

Be more with less.com suggests a four-pile approach to pruning your wardrobe. Empty your closet and place each item in one of these piles:

  1. Love it
  2. I think I want to keep it
  3. Doesn’t fit or isn’t my style
  4. No longer in good condition

Once everything is sorted, place Pile 1 back in your closet, toss Pile 4 in the trash, and box up Pile 3 for your charity-of-choice. Finally, box up Pile 2 and put it somewhere out of the way. If, in the next three months you decide you want something from it, fine. But everything you haven’t missed in three months should go.

Got it?

(For those of you who want a more thoughtful approach to building a capsule wardrobe, you can download this capsule wardrobe planner at Unfancy.com.)

As I sorted, I became aware that I had my own issues regarding many of the pieces—particularly those potentially heading for Piles #2 and #3.

Including:

  • Clothes I keep for sentimental reasons, but never actually wear. (Like the rugby shirt featuring those college colors I always hated.)
  • Clothes I keep because they were a gift. (Guilt, guilt, guilt)
  • Clothes I used to wear a lo.t (Can you say 90s?)
  • Clothes I would love if they fit better/wrinkled less/were the right color/were better quality. (Like that $3 Wal-Mart special…)
  • Clothes I like, but rarely wear (because they are dressy and I am a work-from-home writer who prefers jeans and sweatshirts.)

As was the case with my household clutter, understanding why I was loathe to be rid of certain things helped me face the facts—and say goodbye.

I am still far from the wardrobe capsule ideal, but the four-pile method did help me pare my closet. And I plan to be more intentional about of how well new clothing purchases fit with what I already own.

What about you?  What principles guide your clothing decisions?

Does a wardrobe capsule sound like the freedom you’ve been craving, or a ridiculous fad you can do without? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What’s in Your Dragon Hoard?

dragon hoard

You might be thinking, “I have no hoard of gold; this post isn’t for me.”

Think again.

Some people seem very much like dragons: their sole passion in life appears to be amassing wealth, often without regard to those they trample in the process. Some, like Smaug, are so fixated on their hoard they know when one little piece is stolen and go to great lengths to protect it.

The rest of us are not so fixated on money.

Or are we? Continue reading

Books, Deep Thoughts, and Talking Vegetables

guy with book

So, what awesome book have you read lately?

I love to read.
I love to talk about books.
I love to recommend great ones to my friends.

  • Because they were such a delight to read.
  • Because they were packed with fascinating (and possibly useful) information.
  • Because they make me think.

So I thought I would share my favorites with my blog audience.

For starters, I’ve created a new page called Thoughts on Books where I will list my favorite recent reads along with a brief description of the book. (And a link to any posts where I discuss them.)

Second, from time to time I’ll write a post about a book worth discussing. Not a review, per se, but a commentary on what struck me the most as I read the book. What fascinated me? What challenged me? What resonated? What jarred?

So, here goes…

My thoughts on Me, Myself and Bob: A True Story about Dreams, God and Talking Vegetables by Phil Vischer.

This is a story of a visionary who pushed the boundaries of computer animation to create cutting-edge entertainment. After years of sacrifice and hard work, Big Idea took off and enjoyed meteoric success—sending godly messages into millions of homes across America.

Then, only a few years later, came financial troubles, lawsuits and bankruptcy.

Why did it fail? Why didn’t God intervene?

That’s the real issue the book addresses: What Phil Vischer learned from his failure.

And, I must say, he learned some great lessons. Some of them apply more to entrepreneurs and small business owners, but some of his points struck home.

Here are three I found particularly relevant:

God doesn’t kill our dreams, but he might allow them to die. Not because the dreams were wrong, but because, somewhere along the way, we took our focus off God. “You can’t fully understand that God is enough while you are clutching at your dreams. We must let our dreams go.” Sometimes God has a better plan outside those dreams. Sometimes, the very act of letting go is all that stands between us and God’s continued blessing. But we must never let our dreams become bigger than our God. And that can be very difficult, especially if our dream takes off. Which leads me to…

  • God isn’t concerned with how much we impact the world. He’s concerned with us, not with all the things we do for him. He may choose to use us to impact the world, but even if he does, it’s not the results that he longs for, but our obedience to his calling. Our culture tells us that to be important we need to accomplish things and impact people’s lives in measurable ways. The reality, however, is that we will accomplish more by patiently waiting for God’s direction than by charging forward to make a difference. I admit I’m not very good at the whole “be still and know that I am God,” thing, but it certainly is freeing to know that God cares more about me than anything I can accomplish. Focusing on hearing and obeying him is a whole lot less stressful than worrying about impact. That’s his department.
  • Don’t listen to the voice that whispers, “you deserve it.” Sure it’s nice to be rewarded for hard work, but if we expect to be rewarded for every little thing we do we are no better than a trained dolphin. However, this lie goes deeper—to an underlying belief that we are more deserving than others. (Unless you believe everyone else deserves exactly the same rewards, in which case you may be a communist.) Our world is filled with messages that tell us we deserve more-bigger-nicer. We might like more-bigger-nicer. We might be able to afford more-bigger-nicer. But we don’t deserve I’m not saying it is wrong to reward ourselves, or others, but the moment we start thinking we have a right to more-bigger-nicer we’re in trouble.

Has anyone else read the book? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Otherwise, I’ll say goodbye. It’s time to go find my hairbrush…

Where Did All the Fun Go?

sad clown face

Photo Credit: giveawayboy via Compfight cc

Do you feel like life is just passing you by?

That you’re just going through the motions, filling your days with activity but never feeling fully alive?

Do you wish life was more fun?

If you do, you’re not alone. It’s all too easy, in a life filled with family responsibilities, work deadlines, and volunteer obligations, to spend most of our time doing things we don’t particularly enjoy.

But what can we do about it? Continue reading