February 27, 2009

Open for Discussion

As I told Leah a few days ago, my blogging's been scant lately. The Lord's been teaching me some lessons that are just too intimate to share with the whole world. Because I haven't been able to form any sort of meaningful post, I'm asking for your help extending an invitation. I've noticed other gals out there who've opened their comments up for questions, and I think it's a pretty cool idea.

Here's your chance to ask me anything you'd like. I'll be as open as I can, without disrespecting my family's privacy. (Both Meredith & His Girl have been posted great thoughts about this recently). So, ask away...knowing that I reserve the right not to respond if doing so would cross the boundaries I've set for my blogging.

Go ahead...I'm listening.

February 25, 2009

Cleaning, Made Simple

I confess, I dropped the ball. I told you several weeks ago that I'd formulated a new cleaning routine and would post it soon. Then I didn't. It certainly couldn't be because I haven't actually put the new routine into action yet. Or maybe it is. I'll never tell.

I seem to spend most Saturdays spinning my wheels and never really getting anywhere. The idea of scrubbing down the entire house is always daunting. I often get interrupted, or distracted by another chore (returning items to a room that needs dusting, dust the room, when returning the dusting items to the cleaning closet in the bathroom, notice that the bathroom needs cleaning, etc.) All of that running around has left me feeling worn out with not much to show for it. I was also at the mercy of R's sleeping schedule until his shift changed to give him weekends off. With this big life change for our family, I decided it was time to make the most of my Saturdays.


I created a list of standard Saturday chores:

~dust Living Room
~sweep & vacuum all floors
~spot clean bathrooms

(I'm generally able to stay on top of the laundry & dishes during the week, so it's not a problem)

I've also divided my home into four sections:

~Living/Laundry/Office/Guest Bath
~Master bed & bath
~CJ's "suite" (her room, playroom & bath)

I'll tackle a section each week for deep cleaning. I realize the definition of "deep cleaning" is different for everyone, but here's my list for the kitchen/dining/entry:

~mop floors
~dust trim, light fixtures & art work
~empty & dust china cabinet
~polish appliances (stainless steel)
~clean cabinet fronts & tile backsplash
~seasonal chores (i.e. cleaning windows) as needed

I'm thinking that breaking the house down into four manageable sections will help me in several ways. First, I won't feel so completely overwhelmed. Second, I won't have to spend my entire Saturday dashing around trying to get everything done, because eventually I'll get to it. I've learned that this and this help to reduce the time needed between heavy bathroom cleanings. Since I don't have small children, I think my laminate floors can handle a month between moppings (unless we spill something). If I'm out of town or need a break, I'll get the basic chores done during the week, and back the others up a week. The house won't fall down around me.

I may need to tweak the system after I've been at it for a while, but I think this is a good start. Any suggestions?

February 24, 2009

What's on My Nightstand - February

What's On Your Nightstand

So many books, so little time! This month, I'm tackling a stack that includes:

~Stepping into the Sunlight by Sharon Hinck

~A Day with a Perfect Stranger and Dinner with a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory

~Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

~Word Gets Around by Lisa Wingate

~Spectacular Sins by John Piper (my non-fiction choice, I'm about halfway through now)

~Just Another Girl by Melody Carlson

~Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz

Interested in what others are reading this month? Click here to find out, and to leave your own list.

February 23, 2009

Prayer Request

One of the members of R's building crew fell from 26 feet & broke his femur today. He's undergoing surgery this afternoon. Please say a prayer for Craig & the rest of the team. Several team members have been sick, and the construction hasn't gone as they'd planned. Now this.


February 18, 2009

On My Heart

I'm a romantic, but you might be surprised to find that I've never cared much for Valentine's Day. In fact, this year I told R that he shouldn't even buy me a card. He doesn't need to show me me loves me by spending $5 on a card, unless it's from Starbucks. He shows me every day of the year how much he cherishes and appreciates me. Instead of going out, we had a quiet evening at home with CJ. She cooked dinner...her expression of love to us, and a blessing despite the fact that I had to clean the kitchen afterward.

Even though I'm not into Valentine's Day, I do have some things on my heart:

~R's mission team to Mississippi leaves tomorrow morning bright and early. A few days ago, he found out that he's now in charge of the team. He's more than capable, but also nervous. Compounding his nervousness is the fact that several team members (including R) have terrible colds. Please pray that the Lord will be glorified through all of this. And while you're at it, say a prayer for CJ. She's such a Daddy's Girl, and has already started crying that she doesn't want him to go.

~This weekend I received an unexpected donation for my Peru trip. I haven't been "fund raising", because I know the Lord wants me to trust Him for this rather than asking for money. So, I was totally surprised when a dear friend, who's participated in a foreign mission trip herself, sent me a beautiful card and enclosed a check. When I called her to thank her, she said she knew it wasn't even a drop in the bucket...but I hope she realizes that it means so much to me! With that gift, my consignment shop money for the month, and the deposit the Lord already provided, I've got exactly half of the funds needed! Way to go, God!

~I've been reevaluating and repurposing my computer time, particularly blogging and Facebook. While there are plenty of blogs that entertain, I've realized that I want to read only those that encourage my walk with Christ, educate me in homekeeping, and make me a better woman. I pray that my little corner of the blogworld does that for those who visit here. It's not my goal to entertain or to be popular. I'd rather leave the mark of Jesus here than leave my own. As for Facebook, I just "unfriended" quite a few people who weren't really friends in the first place. I still like chatting with people via Facebook, and it's a nice way to keep up with friends and family. The bottom line is, that I'm not going to let blogging or Facebook overwhelm me anymore.

~I've got to get back into a routine at home. I'm close, but not quite there. I'm hoping to get much accomplished while R's gone, so that he'll return to the peaceful haven we once had. I won't be working as hard as I did last year while he was gone, but my TO DO list is pretty long.

~Recently, I've been given some opportunities to hold others accountable and to be held accountable myself. I've joined a fitness blog, and R has been encouraging me in exercising. I also have an accountability partner for my weight. A few weeks ago, a friend came to me and asked that I hold her accountable for some television choices. She didn't know that the show she struggles with is one I had to give up more than 1 1/2 years ago. I could totally relate to her battle, and have been doing my best to encourage her. In doing so, I've realized that there's still room for improvement in my media choices as well.

Enough about me...what's on your heart these days?

February 13, 2009

C is NOT for Cookie

I'm trying to get back into a bloggy groove, so I asked Lisa to let me play the Alphabet Game. She assigned me the letter "C". My job is to come up with 10 things I love that start with that letter.

Here, in no particular order (other than #1 and #2), are my Top 10 things that start with "C":

1. Christ. Where do I begin on this one? He's the love of my life, my friend, my sustainer, and my deliverer. I can't say enough about Him, yet words often fail me when I try to describe what He means to me.

2. CJ. After Jesus and my man, she is my heart. The girl is smart, witty, and just plain fun. She loves God, sports, board games, and math. And, even though she's a proclaimed Daddy's Girl, she still loves to hug her Mama.

3. Chocolate. I've recently developed a taste for dark chocolate, but a Reese's Peanut Butter cup is my all-time favorite form of chocolate. Snickers is a close second. And let's not forget Chocolate Chess Pie!

4. Coffee. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Steaming hot with flavored creamer, poured over ice, or ice cream...makes no difference to me.

5. The Cosby Show. Thank you, TV Land.

6. Cheesecake...with coffee, of course!

7. Christmas. What's not to love? Special music, visions of sugar plums, nativities, Christ come to earth, pretty packages, and twinkling lights. I know it's become WAY too commercial, but the entire season is my favorite time of year. I love preparing for Jesus' birth, spending time with family, and cold weather. I avoid crowds, stressing myself out over decorations, and putting too many things on my calendar.

8. A clean house. The actual cleaning, not so much.

9. Charlottesville, Virginia. Home to my alma mater, and one of my favorite places to go. I'd move there if I could.

10. Calvin & Hobbes. Guaranteed to make me smile (or laugh out loud) when nothing else can.

As for cookies, I do love them. Just not enough to make the Top 10.

If you want to play along, leave me a comment & I'll assign you a letter!

February 12, 2009

The Week in Highlights

I'm not just learning to trust. There are some fun things happening around here lately.

~After 13 months, I ended the book fast. I couldn't believe how long I agonized over buying two books. I looked and looked for a third so I could get free shipping, but couldn't find anything that I could justify buying right now. That, my friends, is ALL GOD! If you're wondering what I bought...well, it was this and this.

~CJ's more than halfway through the 5th grade. Next year, my girl will be a middle-schooler. Wow! and Ugh! all at the same time. She set an academic goal for herself at the beginning of the year, and she's halfway to achieving it. R and I are so proud of her!

~Although the girls' Bible study has ended, I'm still having a great time with them. They're hoping for a weekend retreat, so I'm trying to work it out.

~I've gotten my reading mojo back. After a recent reading struggle, I wasn't sure I could convince myself to ever read again. Yeah, right.

~Girls' night out at a Japanese steakhouse. It's always nice to get away with the girls for a bit, even if Starbucks was closed! Maybe next time, Alyce!

~I've been talking so much about Peru, that I think I've forgotten to tell you that R is heading back to Waveland, Mississippi. Can you believe they're still rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina? I'm so thankful my husband feels called to this mission...it's certainly his gift.

~In an effort to be healthier and thinner before I leave for Peru, I've enlisted the help of my own personal trainer, R. He's been such a blessing, encouraging me and showing me the best way to exercise. Just another item to put on the long, long list of reasons I love this man!

I need to keep my nose to the grindstone at home this weekend, but I'll be back next week to share even more about trusting.

February 11, 2009

Starting To Sink In

Our Peru team had its first meeting Sunday night. Sitting in the pew, listening to my Pastor explain the preparation involved for this trip still months away really brought it home to me.

I'm going to Peru.

A foreign country. Have I ever mentioned that I took Latin in high school and college? That I dropped out of high school Spanish after a week, and can only count to 10?

I'm going to Peru.

Lord, why me? What can I possibly give to these people?

I'm going to Peru.

The deposit is paid, and I'm trusting God for the rest. I've seen how He's provided for my trip, and for R's trip to Mississippi next week. It's going to happen. I'm hopping a plane in just a few months, and I know I'll never be the same.

I'm tucking the list of 34 others in my Bible to begin lifting them before the Lord.

I'm praying about preparing the testimony He wants me to share.

I'm making lifestyle changes for my health.

He's got something in store, friends...and I don't want to miss it!

February 10, 2009

February 9, 2009

Trusting & Obeying: Giving up Control

Lately my life seems like a scene right out of "Groundhog Day". Every day pretty much feels the same.

Get up
Go to work (where I'm hopelessly behind)
Go home (where I'm also hopelessly behind)
Cook dinner
Avoid being productive
Go to bed

Thrilling stuff.

God has seemed far away these last two weeks. I know He's there and I see some ways He's actively working, but the intimacy hasn't been there. I miss Him. I've been a victim of my own circumstances and am bordering on feeling overwhelmed, which is not something I do well.

It was in my state of self-pity this week that He reached out and spoke to my heart about...what else...trusting.

The Word:
Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.
~Psalm 37:3-4

The Truth:

I haven't been delighting in the Lord much lately. I over committed myself in several areas, and have paid the price. Once again, I reverted back to feeling as if I had to be in control in order for my life to run smoothly...which is the complete opposite of the truth. As Lydia Brownback says in Trust: A Godly Woman's Adornment

We crave a life we can control, and if we give in to this craving, we are going to be tempted to wrest our circumstances away from God when He doesn't act as we think He should.

Do our attempts at an immediate solution mask an unwillingness to wait for God and to live by His timetable?

Guilty, on both counts. I can't seem to be satisfied with having God behind me. I want to see Him in front of me, doing great & mighty things. When He's not, I feel that He's forgotten me.

That is a lie.

And I'm not going to believe it any more.

February 6, 2009

The Voice Behind the Blog

Last weekend, I had the privilege of "meeting" Jennifer and Lauren when we got together for our first podcast for 5 Minutes for Books. It's posted today and you can listen here. If, you know, you want to hear three (very decidedly Southern) women ramble...

Come back and let me know what you think.

February 4, 2009

Word Gets Around by Lisa Wingate

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Word Gets Around

Bethany House (February 1, 2009)


Lisa Wingate


Lisa Wingate lives in central Texas where she is a popular inspirational speaker, magazine columnist, and national bestselling author of several books. Her novel, Tending Roses, received dozens of five-star reviews, sold out ten printings for New York publisher, Penguin Putnam, and went on to become a national bestselling book. Tending Roses was a selection of the Readers Club of America, and is currently in its tenth printing.

The Tending Roses series continued with Good Hope Road, The Language of Sycamores, Drenched In Light, and A Thousand Voices. In 2003, Lisa’s Texas Hill Country series began with Texas Cooking, and continued with Lone Star CafĂ©, which was awarded a gold medal by RT BOOKCLUB magazine and was hailed by Publisher’s Weekly as “A charmingly nostalgic treat.” The series concluded with Over the Moon at the Big Lizard Diner.

Lisa is now working on a new set of small-town Texas novels for Bethany House Publishers. The series debuted with Talk of The Town and continued with Word Gets Around. A new series is also underway for Penguin Group NAL, beginning with A Month of Summer (July 2008), and continuing with The Summer Kitchen in July, 2009. Lisa’s works have been featured by the National Reader’s Club of America, AOL Book Picks, Doubleday Book Club, The Literary Guild, American Profiles, and have been chosen for the LORIES best Published Fiction Award.


When Romance Is In the Air, Word Gets Around Lauren Eldridge thought she'd wiped the dust of Daily, Texas, off her boots forever. Screenwriter Nate Heath thought he was out of second chances. Life's never that predictable, though. Cajoled by her father, Lauren is back in town helping train a skittish race horse set to star in a Hollywood film. But the handsome screenwriter gives her more trouble than the horse. And Nate is realizing there's a spark of magic in the project--and in the eyes of the girl who is so good with horses. Daily, Texas, has a way of offering hope, healing, and a little romance just when folks need it most.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Word Gets Around, go HERE

What people are saying:

"Lisa Wingate writes engaging stories that strike the heart. God has gifted her with a marvelous talent and I, for one, am most grateful."
Debbie Macomber, New York Times #1 bestselling author


February 2, 2009

Wise Beyond Her Years

CJ celebrated her 10th birthday in October. I took her hitting double digits pretty hard. I was hoping to hold on to my baby a wee bit longer. In the past two months, she's had to do more growing up than I would've liked. One instance, I'm not ready to share yet. The other, the death of a schoolmate. Through it all, she's shown a level of maturity and insight that has blessed me and made me so proud to be her Mama.

Certain recent circumstances have caused us to spend much time talking about choosing friends wisely. One afternoon, I was telling her that it's okay to be friendly with non-believers...but that it never works to be the only believer in a group of non-believing friends.

It's kinda' like tug-of-war, Mama.

Oh, really?

Yeah. If you're the only Christian on one side and all unbelieving friends are on the other, they'll pull you down every time.

Hmmm...I'd never thought about it like that before, but she's right.

Just as I thought life was returning to semi-normal, there was the school tragedy. I'm so grateful that God had arranged CJ's Wednesday night church class so that the topic was the age of accountability. In fact, we'd had a long discussion about it on the way home that night. Two short days later, my girl found great comfort in knowing that her schoolmate (4 years old) is in Heaven with Jesus. She didn't have to wonder or worry...she already knew. That knowledge has made it much easier for her to cope with the loss and with the changes at school.

And just this week, the 5th grade class voted for the yearbook superlatives. I guess they get to participate in this tradition (which I loathe) because they're the "seniors" of the elementary school. I'm not sure why anyone in their right mind would subject tweens or teens to this type of judgment. I nearly cringed when CJ told me about it, but then found myself fighting back the tears.

I knew I wouldn't get any of them, but I don't care. I know I'm creative and I know I have a good personality, so it doesn't matter who got them.

Given my perfectionist/people-pleasing tendencies, this is a lesson I'd do well to learn.

Without a doubt, my girl is growing up. She's not perfect. We argue over clothing, the computer, and her penchant for procrastination. I hear the signals of the fast approaching hormone train, and it terrifies me. Yet when I look past those things, I see in her a wisdom and a love for Jesus that is remarkable...and I'm so very grateful for the blessing He's given in allowing me to be a part of this special girl's life.