Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Jesus Loves Me

As I lay awake in the middle of the night, trying very hard to fall asleep without the horrible dreams I was having, God brought this song to mind. I've been working on adding verses to the original "Jesus Loves Me" song because it's fun, so I added a few more to round the whole thing out. The fourth stanza I worked on last summer, but the rest I came up with last night while I wanted to be sleeping! I hope it blesses you like it did me (giving me something positive to think about and work on in a frustrating situation).

Jesus born in Bethlehem
Fully God, yet now a man
Shepherds, Wise Men come and see
Worship, Worship at his feet.

Jesus lived a perfect life
Full of love and truth and strife
Healed the sick and calmed the sea
came to set the captive free

On a cross our savior died
Son of Man was crucified
He was buried in the grave
once for all our lives to save

Three days later he was raised
from the dead out of the grave
Now he sits at God's right hand
Soon he's coming back again.

Jesus whispers in your ear
"Come to me and have no fear
This I did so you could live
Tell the world, my life I give."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Maybe Someday Becomes Maybe Now?

I will start with an apology for not posting for the last month or so... You see, I had decided (last minute) to participate in NaNoWriMo. For those of you who are unfamiliar with that term, it is shorthand for National Novel Writing Month. The 'goal' of NaNo is to write 50,000 words in the month of November on a new novel. I'm going to confess a few things. One, I did not start a new novel for NaNo. Two, I did not reach 50,000 words for the month. Three, I didn't even reach 50,000 words total for my novel so far. However, I feel like a Winner. I may not be able to 'legally' win for the purposes of NaNoWriMo, but there were many things I learned that make me a Winner in my mind and NaNo a great thing for me to have done.

I started with a novel of around 22,000 words. I have been working on it, off and on, for two years or more...maybe even three! (Wow, it's been longer than I remember!) I have been really excited about it and enjoying the little time I had to write. In ONE MONTH I almost doubled that wordcount! I wrote just under 20,000 words total during November. How can I NOT be a winner with a novel that is now over 40,000 words???

It was really great to learn of all the time I actually had to write during the day. Having an impossible goal caused me to rearrange my life so that I could make time where there wasn't time before. Granted, I will probably not have any large chunks of time in which to write until the twins start full day school in, like, 4 years. I needed to use the little chunks of time that I had. It used to take me a long time to get into my character and time to come out of my character, which makes even two hours seem very short. I now get into my character a lot faster so I can maximize my writing time. I kept my novel on the back burner of my mind all the time. That was a really great discovery. I kept thinking that I didn't have time to write at this point in my life. "Maybe someday" became my mindset. Granted, I probably don't have time to write 50,000 words in a month, but even in a month that contained all three kids getting a stomach virus and travelling to Colorado for Thanksgiving I came close to 20,000. That's amazing. If I did that every month, I could be finished in a few more months! Finished! It could happen. It's not in the 'maybe someday' category anymore, it's in the 'baby steps' category. A little at a time and it could be done. That is my Win for NaNoWriMo.

Another Win was meeting local authors. I really needed a community here where I could talk about my writing, and I didn't know anyone. Now I know a few people. Sure, I don't know them well, but maybe it'll turn into a writing group or something. That would be totally awesome for me. We had a lot of fun at our meet ups and I'm super excited about continuing them after NaNo.

Finally, I just want to encourage you in your "maybe someday" category. Sure, maybe some of those aren't doable right now, but maybe some of them are. Maybe you need to take a hard look at where you're spending your time and where you want to spend it. Do you find yourself wasting time? Set yourself a goal that seems really high, but just maybe possible. 50,000 words is only 1,667 words a day. That wasn't so impossible as to be really impossible it was just highly unlikely but maybe possible. I even had a couple of days where I made that goal. More shocking to me was the 'word wars' we would have during meet ups. I could do 400 or so words in 15 minutes (I was always one of the slowest). But that number puts the rest of the numbers into perspective for me. Does that mean I can write 1600 words in an hour...not that I know of, but maybe I could be more productive with my time. Instead of checking one more website or my twitter feed again or facebook or turning on the tv to see what's on or whatever the distraction is...maybe I can use that time to take a baby step toward my goal. What is your goal and what might you do now to take some baby steps toward it? Get moving. Have fun.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

On thankfulness...

I have always considered myself to be an optimist. I tend to look at the world through rose-colored glasses, always seeing the best in people and in situations. Sure, some may call me naive. Some may think I'm delusional or unrealistic. But I enjoy being optimistic. I like being upbeat and positive. However, I've noticed that my positive attitude has suffered recently. Not because of politics or the economy, but because of something I never expected...children.

I have wanted to be a mommy for most of my life. I have always loved children. I love hanging out with them, talking with them, playing with them, and teaching them. From babies in diapers to teenagers in drama and everything in-between, I just really like hanging out with them and loving on them. So with all of these happy-happy-joy-joy feelings floating about my head concerning children, what is my issue?

My children. Or, more precisely, my response to them and what I've learned about myself through having them. All children can be frustrating, disobedient, stubborn, and mean. They are completely selfish and self-centered...Any you know what? So am I. Why don't they just do what I ask them to??? Why can't they understand that I want what's best for them? Why do I feel like their failure to behave to my standard is a reflection of my failure as a parent? ...Probably because I'm a mom. I'm sure my frustrations in raising my three little ones are not unusual. However, I have found myself focusing on those frustrations, and I think that's what has been bringing me down.

I realized this recently. I don't know why I didn't notice that I was doing it before. My husband would come home and ask about my day, and I would relate to him all the things that went wrong. Who hit, who was in time-out, who disobeyed, who broke what, etc. There were so many fun moments in the day, and I would remember all the bad ones. I practically had my husband convinced that I had the worst job in the world! I almost convinced myself. Then I started reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I'm only on chapter four right now, but chapter three blew my mind. The practice of seeing the good in every moment of the day, and giving thanks for it, has changed my perspective. Making sure I'm on the lookout for the good things, helps me to stay calm when the bad things come. No, my children don't scream every moment of every day...but that's how I felt. I would tune in from scream to scream and miss the giggles in-between. It was a sad and depressing way to live.

The first day of my new thankfulness mindset started with my trying to get the kids out the door to an activity and them not moving quickly enough. I was frustrated and exasperated. I pulled out of the garage in a really bad mood and waited to see if my garage door went down. Yeah, the sun shines just wrong into the laser safety light mechanism at that time of the morning and it thinks there is someone under the door, so it goes back up. I usually have to stand so that my shadow covers the light receiver so the the sun doesn't interrupt the laser. I paused the car anticipating the need to get out and be another two minutes late when the door just went right down. I was so surprised that it shocked me out of the frustrated mood I was in. That was when I remembered the thankfulness thing I was supposed to be doing. I smiled so big! Thank you for garage doors that go down like they're supposed to! It changed my whole day. We went on and had a great time at our activity and I had a great day to report to my hubby! Thankfulness for the little things really does change your perspective on the bigger things.

So I'm seeking to take back my optimism and move forward with thankfulness...because I really do have three amazing children and the best job there is! :)


Sorry I haven't posted in a allergies were so bad I decided that I needed to take medicine. Unfortunately the medicine made me completely exhausted whenever I sat down. I would sit at the computer to write and just zone. My brain would not function on any thinking skill at all! Anyway, I decided to stop taking the medicine so that I could write again. I'm feeling pretty good now...a little itchy eyes and nose, a couple sneezes, but very manageable. Hopefully the worst of it has moved on. Now I will attempt to write that blog post I've been trying to write for two weeks! :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Weight Loss...

Weight loss is something you usually hear about around the new year usually in reference to a resolution...probably because it comes right after the culmination of the Thanksgiving and Christmas season and everyone just ate twice their weight in not-so-healthy-but-oh-so-yummy food and you need to resolve to lose the 10 lbs you gained over the last month and a half. There is another big push nearer to the end of spring when you realize you will probably have to wear a swimsuit sometime in the next few months and you don't really want to have to buy one that's bigger let alone be seen in one at all. Well, it's not January and it's not April, but I have a few things to share about my journey so far.

I decided to try this weight loss thing on my own this time. I've successfully done WeightWatchers in the past (I lost 35 lbs after my first child was born), but I didn't really want to spend the money to keep myself accountable. I didn't really know how the points thing translated, but it seemed like it could be something I could do. I found out that what I really needed to worry about was the amount of calories I put into my body every day. Yeah, pretty basic, huh? But counting calories can be work! I started out getting an app for my phone that could count calories and give me an estimate of how many I could take in and how they should be divided up (fruits, veggies, protiens, etc). You know the drill. I've tried several and they all work very similarly. You add the item you ate, the amount of it that you ate, and it pops out a number. Simple, right? I used it for less than a week. I just got tired of entering it into the database. It frustrated me. That's when I developed my actual plan. The one that has been working for me.

It's not very difficult, really. I just decided that I would eat a variation on the same things every day so that my calories were predictable. Sounds boring, doesn't it? Yeah, I thought so too. You see, I like food. I like food a lot. I don't think that I could eat the same bland food day in and day out for the rest of my life...because face it, we're not talking about a diet we're talking about a lifestyle change. If I am going to have a healthy body, then I need to feed it what it needs (not what I emotionally want) every day for the rest of my life. I needed a plan I could live with...literally. So, I have several options for breakfast that are fast and easy...Usually Great Grains Crunchy Pecan cereal with light vanilla soy milk (yes, you have to measure it out - portion control!) or Hungry Girl's western omelette in a mug (egg beaters, chopped peppers and onions, deli ham, and cheese). I can portion control most cereals this way, so it's easy to change up if I want to and egg beaters mixed with all this stuff taste pretty good. My lunch tends to be some variation on a sandwich with lots of veggies and fruit. I really like the St Joseph's pitas that are 60 calories each and half of a laughing cow light cheese wedge used as a spread instead of mayo. Then you can add chicken or almost fat free deli meat along with tomatoes and lettuce or spinach or whatever! Have some carrots, sugar snap peas, and a fruit and you are golden. Yum. Oh, and you can dip the veggies in the other half of the cheese! Then (and here's the best part), I get to have whatever I want for dinner. Okay, so 'whatever I want' with portion control. And there are many recipes that already have the calorie count figured for you...just follow the directions. is awesome!

That's it. Well, not quite. I have also added excercise to my routine. Yeah, I didn't know if I could actually do this. I have three little ones and I didn't know how I was going to find the time! However, I ended up joining the YMCA and I am able to put the kids in childwatch while I work out. That has been awesome! I aim for three times a week. I usually hit that.

Oh, I didn't really do this all on my own either. I don't have any one person keeping me accountable, but I have many who have either gone before me and give me inspiration or are walking alongside of me in their own weightloss goals. My Mother-in-Law and little sister have been especially inspiring and encouraging as I walk through this journey as well as the book Made to Crave by Lysa Terkhurst.

I'm writing about this today because I have recently reached my halfway goal and have now made it into the next tens-digit down! I am less that 5 lbs away from my wedding weight of 9 1/2 years ago! I am thrilled about this (obviously) and I wanted to share. I have less than 20 lbs to go before I reach the goal I think I want to stay at. However, it's taken me 7 months to lose 22 lbs this way. I could have been more strict with my calorie count, but I just didn't want to...besides, slow and steady wins the race.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Well-Behaved Child...

If you haven't read The Well-Behaved Child: Discipline That Really Works by John Rosemond, you should. I thought it was a brilliantly written book covering the basics of child discipline: the parent. Yes, shocking I know, but the real work of raising children begins with the parent. This is not a book that will tell you how to make your children do what you want. Believe it or not, you cannot make other people change their behavior. (You can influence them and guide them, but the choice is ultimately theirs.) Rather, it will help you change the only person you can: yourself. It will tell you how to be a leader in your home and how to create an environment that is calm and positive.

I don't know about you, but my home and my parenting style was not characterized by the word calm. I was stressed and upset by most things. I would warn and plead until I either blew up or gave up. While my children were disobeying and pushing their limits, I knew the problem was my own. I knew I was doing something wrong. I just didn't know what. I read many books on parenting, and while most were inspirational and practical, nothing seemed to least not for long.

The philosophies in this book made a lot of sense to me and they were what I needed to hear. I can't say my home is perfect now (it never will be, we're all human), but my attitude and outlook is better and I'm working on developing habits that are making me into the person I need to be for my children. So if you feel like you need a different way to do 'parenting,' then you should read this book. It's not easy; but it's simple, straightforward, and worth it. I needed to start living out my responsibility as a parent which is so much more than providing food and shelter and is providing a positive example and firm boundaries. Hard. Much harder than I want it to be. But "the one who called you is faithful, and he will do it." (1 Thess. 5:24) Thank you Lord for changing my heart!

Also, as a side note, I wish I had read this book before I started probably would have helped a lot! So I'm also recommending it to teachers and future teachers even though it is written to parents.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

Ten years ago I was a second-year eighth grade science teacher in Maryland. It was my planning period. I honestly don’t remember what I was doing. I think I was talking with another teacher. However, I do remember that it was the social studies teacher on my team that told us…or rather, showed us. He had been watching the news to talk about current events. He came into the room, turned on the television, and we watched the reporter try to explain what had happened to the first tower. As she floundered with the possibilities, we watched as the second plane flew into the other tower right behind her. How do reporters learn to just keep talking when everyone else is just dumbstruck?

I don’t remember when class started. Someone managed to look at the clock and we realized that the students were about to change classes. It had felt like an eternity and a moment all at the same time. Was it before the Pentagon attack and flight 93? I don’t know. I went to my room and turned on the news in there as well. The kids all knew before they got to my door. I spent that next class trying to comfort and reassure frightened children as we continued to watch the reports. I’m not sure how well I did. At some point we received instructions from the Principal to turn off the televisions and continue with the day as planned. We didn’t get much done that day. Actually, at least half of the children were taken out of school early by their parents.

I cried a lot that day. And the days that followed. I listened to the heart-wrenching stories of all those people: the ones that lived, the ones that died, the firefighters, the police officers, those who just happened to be walking by that day, the families of those who couldn’t be found, those in the towers, those in the Pentagon,  those brave people on flight 93 who stopped the fourth attack. All of them. Each and every person had a story and I listened to them all. And as I listened this morning before church to Amazing Grace being played at the memorial service, I cried again. During the video memorial at church, I cried again. And while I’m writing this, yes, I’m crying. Why? Those stories. Those people. They inspired America. Not to terror, but to pride.

T’was Grace that taught…

my heart to fear.

And Grace, my fears relieved.

How Precious did that Grace appear…

the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares…

we have already come.

T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far…

and Grace will lead us home.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Beginning...

The title is a bit ambiguous and perhaps a little ambitious (and maybe some other fun 'a' words that I could come up with before the alliteration got annoying...) so I will try to explain. I'm not going to talk about the beginning of me, as in the day I was born, because I don't really know a whole lot about that day... My mom probably doesn't really remember it either. Really, the only thing we need to know about that day is that it happened and therefore the rest of life happened as well. The beginning I'm referring to occurred when I was in 5th grade. Before this time I do have some memories, but not many...and most of those were from 4th grade. This particular year was the year I learned that reading was fun and interesting and fascinating. Prior to this I don't recall reading much. Perhaps I did and don't remember it, but I do remember thinking that I had never liked books much before this, so I'm guessing that I wasn't an avid reader before this book.
The book that changed everything was Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. It was the first book that ever spoke to my imagination, tickled it under the chin, and coaxed it out of its latent repose...although, I didn't think about it in those terms at the time. :) My heart was captured by a normal little girl who finds something extraordinary, interacts with it, and has to make a decision whether to embrace it or not. The final scenes in the book are still branded into my memory, and it's been 10 years since I've read it last. Poignant is probably the best word I can use to describe it. I cried both times I have read it because I was so sad that she made the choice she did, but I was so happy about it at the same time...and I think if it ended the opposite way, I would do the same (Although, I think it ended right). So thank you, Natalie Babbitt, for writing the book that made me into a reader; Thank you, Mrs. Ziesloft (sp?) for making us read it in your 5th grade class; and thank you to the name-forgotten student teacher who actually lead the unit for that book that year.

It was a good beginning. I think from that moment on I have rarely been ANYWHERE without a book. I remember reading a book as I walked in the halls all through middle school...yeah, I was weird. Most of the time I would rather be reading...except now that I have started writing my own book. It was just a few years after my fateful collision with Tuck Everlasting that I started writing, and I've written on and off ever since. However, I decided sometime this year that I wanted to make a career out of it. So I call myself a writer, but I don't have anything published yet...I will though. I'm excited to share my stories with other readers and hopefully inspire others to beautiful moments. Thanks for reading!

Welcome - on blogging

I've never understood blogging as a medium. It didn't really make any sense to me. However, I have recently found myself reading several blogs and I can now see some of their usefulness so I decided to try it. It is still odd to think that I am writing this to, essentially, no one. Having just created my blog, I have no followers... So if you happen to stumble upon this page and like what you see, feel free to follow me so that I will no longer be writing only to myself. Thanks! :)