Tuesday, September 30, 2014

what we're reading {september edition}...

we had our family road trip at the beginning of this month.
in preparation for that, i made a trip to the new-to-us library i've mentioned in previous posts and stocked up on a crazily, insanely huge pile of books.
of course, as fate would have it, i ended up not reading as much as i thought i would while we were traveling.  there were so many fabulous sights to see, in addition to the fact that paul and i enjoy using travel time to brainstorm and scheme and plot and plan about our future hopes and dreams.
i still ended up squeezing in quite a bit of reading before our trip...
and not so much since we've been back home.

austyn has read voraciously this month, and colton's read quite a bit, also.

here's what we've been reading...

erin's pile {and no, i didn't read all of these}--the tragedy paper by elizabeth laban.
i've enjoyed several YA reads in the past year or so, and based upon a recommendation wanted to give this one a try.
while the storyline was enough to capture my attention despite the YA theme/language, the ending was such a let-down {after such a strong build-up throughout the book} that i was thoroughly disappointed.  
it's nothing to write home about, in my opinion.

atonement by ian mcewan.
i gave this book a little over 16 pages...which is probably about 15 pages more than i should have bothered with.  i can't really offer a fair review...it just simply wasn't for me.
i found the language and style of writing very difficult to follow.
i'm actually disappointed that i didn't like the book...i've heard/read such rave reviews about it...
am i missing something?

one thousand white women: the journals of may dodd by jim fergus.  
as the title suggests, this book is written in journal-style.  though i wouldn't rave about it as much as many of the people who recommended it to me, it was an entertaining read.  i love the fact that i finished the book feeling like i had learned a bit about the native American culture and customs.

still alice by lisa genova.
i can't really say that i loved this book.  but i certainly didn't hate it.  and i would wholeheartedly recommend it.  but it's just one of those that, because of its deep, gut-wrenching subject, you don't really come away saying 'oh, i loved that!'...if that makes sense.
this book will stick with me for a long, long time.  and that makes it a winner...in my book.  {har-har.  book pun, there.}

the language of flowers by vanessa diffenbaugh.
when i finished the last page of this book, i wanted nothing more than to flip all the way back to page one and immediately begin re-reading it.
very few things can top a book that educates while it entertains.  even better is a book that completely shakes your preconceptions to the core.
this book is all of the above.  
i will never look at flowers or the foster care system the same again.  ever, ever, ever.  
i highly recommend this read.

half broke horses by jeannette walls.
ugh.  i wanted to like this book.  i was supposed to like this book.  hey, i was supposed to love this book.
but i didn't.
in all fairness, i'm not a big fan of collections of stories.  
this book reads like a collection of short, mostly-true stories about one woman's life.  
i spent the entire book thinking that it was just about to get good.  except it never got there.
the overall feel is dark {and that was another turn-off for me} and very matter-of-fact.  
i read mostly fiction for a reason...i enjoy fiction.  therefore, a fiction book that is written to sound/feel/read/smell/taste like a non-fiction book?  meh.  not for me.

the silver star by jeanette walls.
i actually read the silver star before half broke horses because it looked more interesting to me.
the characters, while riddled with faults and failures, were likable enough, if for no other reason than that their shortcomings always seemed to be accidental.
still, though, like hbh, i constantly found myself expecting the book to go somewhere...and it never did.

night road by kristin hannah.
this is your typical "something horrific happened and she spends the entire book {years and years} agonizing over it and then, three pages before the end it all changes."
i realize i'm being a bit ambiguous there...don't want to spoil the ending in case any of you want to read it.
all in all, a decent mindless read, if you're looking to just toss away several hours.  
a friend of mine called it "mature chick lit."  hit the nail on the head.

stardust by neil gaiman.
disclaimer: i am not a fantasy fan.  
that said, i couldn't put this book down.  and it wasn't even that the book was that great.  
but it had a certain element to it that pulled me in to where i had to know what happened.
if i were into the fantasy genre, i believe this would probably be tops on my list.  if.

what i'm reading now:
i'm several chapters into moon over manifest,
a few chapters into bel canto,
and a page or two into gone girl {and have received very mixed reviews on it}.
and all those other books you see in that pile up there?
they're in my "to be read" pile.  we'll see.  i'm kind of doubting it.

{if you need to refresh your memory on ages/reading levels of my children,
feel free to refer back to July's post.}
austyn's pile--austyn dragged through book 8 of the ranger's apprentice series for the longest time, and then quite literally flew through the final four books in the series.  i really can't say enough about these books.  i've read all but the last two {they weren't out yet when i read the first ten} and they're on my "re-read list."  if you have a reluctant reader, i'd wholeheartedly suggest that you give these a try.  {more info on the series here and here.}

now that she's done with the RA series, austyn's moved on to the hunger games.  she's already finished books 1 and 2 and is currently reading mockingjay.  i read all three of these books a couple years ago.  to be honest, i had originally planned to wait a few more years before allowing austyn to read them; however, she has a very good grasp of the more mature subject matter in these books and we have very open lines of communication between the two of us.  when she finished the RA series, she asked if she could start the hunger games and i agreed.

for school, i told her that she had to read either a biography or a children's classic.  her first choice was master detective allan pinkterton {a bio} and now she's on to her second book of the school year, the ballad of lucy whipple.

colton's pile--colton continues to enjoy the magic tree house books.  although i've found that they're technically below his reading level, i don't worry about that too much.  those are the books he reads in his free time...personally, i'm just glad he's reading!!!
on a recent trip to the library, he picked up peter and the starcatchers by dave barry and ridley pearson.  it's a higher reading level than he usually reads for leisure, but he's enjoying it.
atlas of the presidents is a vintage book {i found at goodwill} that he chose for his school reading.  {this is his reading assignment, separate from his daily social studies work.}  every day he reads two or three short 2-3 page blurbs about each president and then watches a youtube video with corresponding information about each president
finally, he uses the lego ideas book as a reference.  we've cut way back on the amount of new legos coming into the house this year, and it's been for the best.  rather than constantly opening new sets, building them, and subsequently setting them aside and forgetting about them, it's forced the kiddos to exercise their creativity, building sets and figures from components that they already own.

that's that.
lots of books around here.  sometimes, the piles of books threaten my sanity just a bit.  and then i remember...they could be video games or obnoxious music or noisy toys or a myriad of other annoying kid-things.
i'll take stacks of those any day.

shoot me your recommendations any time, please.
i promise not to mention your name if i hate the book.
how's that for a guarantee?


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Friday, September 26, 2014

random randomness 9/26/14

saturday--a hashtag worth following.  
{for what it's worth, her blog and IG are worth following, too.}

sunday--i've already told you how much i enjoy snooping in other people's bookshelves.  
this post is almost just as good as the real thing.

monday--love at first sight.  oh...and...um...probably this, too.

tuesday--maybe everyone in the world already knows how to make the very best drop biscuits.  but just in case you don't...
{yes.  i actually made these on tuesday.  they are *super-duper* simple.  and a cheese grater works beautifully for "cutting" your butter.  you're welcome.}

wednesday--mrs. meyers products for $2.24 each?
join epantry. {yes, it's a "subscription," but you can cancel after your first order, if you so choose.  that's what i thought i would do.  several months later, our love life is still going strong.  believe me, this is a company worth working with.}
you'll automatically get $10 off your first order for ordering through my referral link above. {order must have $30 worth of goods...don't freak out, keep reading.  you won't spend even nearly that much!}
while you're on their site, answer whatever goofy little question pops up in the box on the lower left of your screen...save another $2.
use the hashtag #epantry on facebook, instagram, or twitter, and save another $1.
order 4 mrs. meyers hand soaps {$4.03 each} and 4 mrs. meyers countertop sprays {$3.69 each} for a total of $30.88.  {this is just one scenario--you can order whatever your sweet little heart desires, just so long as it adds up to $30+. by the way, these things make great adult stocking stuffers.  just sayin'.}
Subtract your $13 in savings and your cost comes out to just $17.88--only $2.24 per item! 
{shipping is usually free.  if it doesn't come up as free on your order, just go back to that funny box in the lower left corner and ask JD for free shipping.  he's guaranteed me he'll say 'yes'☺}

thursday--i guess i'm a kool-aid drinker...i just ordered this.  and it comes with this.  kool-aid has never smelled so good.

friday--is there something from her in every friday's post?  she's one of my faves.  {and a follow-up, if you liked that article.}

because they're too good not to share...
☛this is really random, even for one of my randomness posts, but i nevah, evah, evah see bob's red mill coupons.  if you're trying to eat healthier, chances are you've used some of their products.  
so.  if you'd like some supah-good coupons, check this out.  and no, i don't earn anything through this.  just sharing because i'm nice like that.
☛oh.my.word.  cannot handle the cute.
{follow links on ☝that page☝ for info--looks like she's selling these soon.}
☛the definition of true beauty

so much good stuff happening this weekend...
homeschool co-op today--we are so excited!!!  we missed this year's first meeting because of our family vacation, but have been eagerly looking forward to today.  this is our third year in this group and we have been so blessed by the amazing friendships both the kids and i have formed with the other moms and children.
later this afternoon, my sweet SIL is taking all four of our kiddos, so paul and i can get away for the night.  we're going up to lake geneva to spend the evening with my brother and his girlfriend, then heading up with them to the WI Badgers game in madison on saturday. 
 hoping to get in a bit of time browsing the fantastic madison farmer's market, too.
church on sunday...
and then a bit of breathing and relaxing time on sunday afternoon.

happy friday, y'all!

{my favorite IG post of the week--i'm @tweetpotatopie over there, too.}

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

finding balance {ashley's story}...

my friend, ashley, is sharing her finding balance story today.
ashley blogs at under the sycamore and can be found on instagram at @underthesycamore.
ashley also teaches online photography courses {and her upcoming session has a few spots left!}
ashley and i crossed paths via instagram and a vintage pull-down school map...long story.
we met a little over a year ago.
i instantly realized how true-to-her-blog the "real Ashley" is.
ashley's quiet voice, both vocal and online, encourages and inspires me and thousands of others.


Over a year ago I found myself at a Craft Weekend surrounded by piles of fabric and finally getting to talk with Erin in person. My family was just entering a new phase of life due to a job change for my husband. I was on the verge of becoming the primary income earner and there were all kinds of fears and excitement as I considered the future. Erin encouraged me, challenged me, and laughed with me. Fast forward many months. I'm still teaching photography courses online. Still homeschooling five kids. And still facing all kinds of fears and excitement as I consider the future.

Earlier this summer, Erin emailed me to ask if I would consider writing a guest post on balance.

I think it took me nearly two months to respond to her email.

How is that for balance and getting it all done?

I finally responded and began my email to her with these words, "Girl...I am not balancing it all. I don't feel qualified at all to write a post about balance. For me balance means letting lots of things slide - like email. Even important emails. I can't do it all...thus the ridiculous amount of time it takes me to get back to people on anything...unless you are one of my kids asking me to play."

I also said something about how I let people down, but I choose WHO I let down.

For some reason, she still invited me to write this post and expand a little on those few brief words in my email. So here is my post about how "I do it all", which is really a post about how I choose not to do it all. I don't want to do it all. I can't do it all. I'm pretty confident no one can. For me, it isn't about doing it all. It is about letting my actions and time truly reflect WHO is most important to me. It is about choosing to let down some people, so I can choose not to let down others.

I think we all hear encouragement to know our priorities and to keep our priorities in order. The encouragement is great, but it can be tricky to figure out HOW to practically do that in day to day life that is full of demands. I will be the first to say I don't get it right all the time. I am very much a work in progress. As soon as I get in a groove, our daily routines change and I have to find a new groove again. Erin asked me to share some practical examples of how not doing it all plays out in my day to day life.

Just for some background on me - I'm a first-born. Straight A student all my life, other than that one B+ I got in college that I am still bitter about. I like things to be organized and clean. I really don't like doing something unless I can do it perfectly. My dad taught me if I don't arrive somewhere at least 5 minutes early, I'm already late.

Now I have five kids. I homeschool. I have a small business. I can no longer do things orderly, on time, or in a remotely perfect way. I can't do it all. So, I've had to choose what I can do and learn to be okay with the things I can't. I've become the queen of celebrating imperfection and sometimes I am late (sorry dad). This is a hard lesson for me, but oh so critical too.

I'm choosing to jump on the trampoline with my kids instead of networking or trying to build my business.

I opt to let down that person I don't know well that asked me to be a part of something, so I don't let down the little girl who wants me to paint her nails.

I'm learning to be okay with posting not-perfect photos on my blog because it means I spent more time actually playing with the kids than spending that time trying to get the perfect shot.

I say "no" to really wonderful weekend conferences/retreats because I don't want to miss that flag football game.

For me, it is a matter of WHO I am going to let down, not IF I will let someone down. I'm not prompt at responding to email or texts because I am choosing to be prompt at responding to something else...or rather someone else. I'd rather disappoint a stranger that only knows me online than my little boy longing for time with me. Sidenote: I am terrible at texting and email because of this. My friends know this. They are so patient!

I want my kids to hear "yes" more than they hear "not now" or "maybe later". I want them not just to hear me say they are my favorite people, I want them to FEEL that they are my favorite people. As a small business owner/blogger, there are thousands of things I could be doing better, things I could be giving more attention to, things I could be more concerned about if I want my business to grow. There are days I think that is what I want....and then I look over at my kids. More than I want a successful business or blog, I want a successful family.

So, I am okay with letting things slide in my business. I'm okay with not doing everything the experts say I should do as a blogger, photographer, small business owner. Any blog or business success has come not because of me, but in spite of me. In so many ways, I do it all 'wrong', but it is what is right for me and my family. When I lay in bed at night I try to ask myself, "how did I truly connect with those I love today?" If I can end a day knowing I really connected with my husband and each of my kids - that they FELT how loved and important to me they are - then it was a successful day. If I go to bed knowing my inbox is empty and every business 'to-do' was checked off but all my kids heard was "not now" or "maybe later"...then I go to bed thankful the day is over, but with resolve to make the next day better.

I don't do it all. I don't try to balance life. I choose to do a few things and I choose not to do a whole lot more. I choose to say, "No." to a whole lot of people that don't live under my roof, so that I can say "Yes!" a whole lot to those that do.

{the other posts in this series can be found here.}

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

des moines & sioux falls {hisaw road trip installment 1}

early this month, our family embarked on our annual vacation.
last year's vacation was a trip to a lake house on crystal lake, near frankfort, michigan.  
we checked in on a saturday, checked out the following saturday, relaxed and rejuvenated.
this year's road trip couldn't possibly have been more different.
we saw eight states in nine days...
traveled well over 2,000 miles...
and didn't get nearly enough rest!
{isn't that how it always goes? you get home and need a vacation from the vacation!}
seriously, though, we had such a great time, and saw so many incredible places.  
of the eight states we saw, i, personally, had never been to five of them.  most of our children had never been to six of them.  {my hubs, traveler that he is, had already been to most of them--but back when he was a kid himself.}

the first leg of our trip was to the area near des moines, iowa.
we spent our first night with our former babysitter--now grown and married.
after breakfast the following morning, we drove to downtown des moines, so i could meet up with a sweet friend from instagram {one of my favorite parts of interstate travels}.
paul was so great, keeping the kiddos occupied running around the capitol lawn while she and i visited and sipped coffee.

for the most part, i've lived in illinois since i was 18, but i've never been to the illinois state capitol.
the iowa state capitol was so beautiful and we so thoroughly enjoyed its paths and steps and monuments and gardens that i told paul we need to put a day trip to the illinois capitol on our must-do list for sometime within the next year.

when we left des moines, we headed west for sioux falls, sd.
we did quick peek-in at the corn palace in mitchell, sd, but i don't have any photos to post of that stop.  if you're really interested, i posted a short flipagram on my instagram of all the corn-made murals; but quite honestly, other than those, the corn palace really wasn't much of anything exciting. {apologies in advance if any of my readers hail from mitchell!}

our very favorite stop in sioux falls was falls park.  the waterfalls were absolutely fascinating...mesmerizing to watch along with the flow of the river.
acres of smooth-worn rock covered the landscape and our kiddos had such a fabulous time climbing and crawling and exploring.  we spent several hours here {and even returned on the tail end of our trip--more about that in a later post}.
it never fails to amaze me how you can give kids nothing--no toys, no electronics, no fancy games, no tv, no movies--nothing but pure nature...and they can be thoroughly delighted and amused for limitless time.

after this trip, i vowed to invest whatever funds necessary to purchase worthy hiking shoes for each member of the family.
flip-flops just didn't cut it.
{yes, i'm usually very prepared.  no, most of my kiddos do not own good tennis shoes.  yes, i probably should have thought of that before this trip.  no, i didn't.  ya can't win 'em all.}

one of my favorite things to watch over the course of our trip {nine days of a lot of together time--together time in close quarters} was the distinct differences in each of my children.
addison is by far the most easily self-entertained.
she happened upon this algae-slimed puddle and promptly searched for a stick.
once she found that, she was all set.
we all walked and jumped and were otherwise occupied for the better part of 45 minutes, while she contentedly played her imaginary game.
i love that about her.

the perspective of this shot makes it gulliver's-travels-esque to me.

i spy two little hisaws!

these two...
i know we have lots of years in front of us...
my hope and dream for them is that they'll always be as close as they are now...
i'm sure they'll have their fusses and fights and squabbles...
but oh my, the fierce love they have for each other is a gift to a momma's heart.

the "jump shot"...
highly over-used...and we loved every second of it!

can words even express how much i love that i get to be a part of this group?
these are my favorite people in the world...
the coolest kids i know...
and the most patient, good-hearted man.
i've been so blessed.

an arts and crafts festival was going on in downtown sioux falls...
we perused several of the vendors there, gulped down a root beer float, munched on a toddler-sized bag of kettle corn and high-tailed it out of there after a little over an hour.
the more we travel, the more we learn about what we actually like to do...what "works" for us.  with a few exceptions, most craft fairs aren't our cup of tea...which kind of surprises me, given how much i enjoy crafting.  but with the kids along, leisurely browsing just isn't practical.

it's funny how similar this place looks to our little small-town, hole-in-the-wall dairy mart here in illinois.
while craft fairs are "meh"...stops at great old joints like this are a must in our book.

per the recommendation of one of my sioux falls IG friends, paul and i stopped in at the queen city bakery for breakfast before pulling out of town on our way further west.
the industrial feel of the shop along with its location in an old, renovated warehouse-type building gave it such charm and a warm, cozy feel.
paul was thrilled...he got his first ever "fancy latte" here--you know, where they make a "design" with the frothy milk?
yep.  we're high-class, folks.

and because you can just never get enough jump shots...
and because i just can't get enough of eden's facial expressions in most of these.
also, we're voting addison "best jumper of the family"...
in three out of five of these, that girl cleared air!
austyn has her mother's grace...obviously.
and colton?  i just love that boy.

{more to come, as i get time to edit the slew of photos i took.}

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Monday, September 22, 2014

my monday morning prayer...

this past weekend was such a gift...
a gift that i so desperately needed.

thanks to a sweet friend keeping my two littles {to play with her little girl}, 
i was able to take my two oldest to a "new-to-us" library all alone...

the library had a selfie booth, complete with props and small costume items, upstairs in the YA department.  we had such a hilarious time and were giggling and laughing so hard that the librarian was eyeballing us rather sternly.  {for the record, we were the only ones up there☺} 
that laughter...that laughter with my kiddos was so good for my soul.

we strolled through the garden center and i splurged on a $10 mum for my back deck.
it's already been worth every cent for all the enjoyment i've had, seeing it every time i look out my kitchen window.
we stopped at a garage sale where austyn and colton raided the freebie bin--coming away with a pair of red ray-ban knock-off sunglasses and a superhero magazine...both of them asking me, "when you were a kid, did you always dig through the free bin?"
love that they're always curious about the most random details about "when i was a kid."
i found three incredible old vintage window frames on the side of the road...two of which were green {be still my beating heart}...FOR FREE! {i always say, "free is my favorite price!"}

on saturday, i took my girls to a dress-up birthday party...
{again, be still my beating heart...}

and we had company...
sixteen people, to be exact...
not including the six in our family!
and we "planned" the whole get-together approximately 20 hours beforehand.
it was a blast!

there were twelve little ones here total...
and my sunroom looked like this...
and i didn't even care.
in fact, i relished it.

how many times have you seen {and laughed at} the "morning prayer?"
dear Lord,
so far i've done all right.
i haven't gossiped, 
haven't lost my temper,
haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent.
i'm really glad about that.

but in a few minutes, God,
i'm going to get out of bed.
and from then on,
i'm going to need a lot more help.

i always get a little smile every time i read that.
but after the soul-restful weekend i had...
and after the less-than-stellar week i had last week...
i feel like my prayer today needs to be something like this...
dear Lord,
i had a really great weekend.
i didn't lose my temper...
i wasn't short with my kids or snappy with my husband.
i rested and relaxed and breathed deep and did crafts with my littles and made memories that will last.
i had peace in my heart and fulfilled the command of "be still."

but God...
now it's monday.
'nuff said.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

random randomness 9/19/14

saturday--because it always, always bears sharing, my very, very favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe ever {the secret is to thoroughly chill the butter, though not to the point of it being set}

sunday--it feels like fall around here.  the weather hasn't climbed out of the 70's for days on end...and other than one day next week, 60's and 70's stretch on as far as the eye can see.  i'm not much for online shopping, but this really caught my eye.  i'm loving it.

monday--speaking of fall, check out the free printable in this post. my word.  the whimsy.

tuesday--trying to gather up my courage and do a post on how life-changing our recent live-by-die-by budget has been for us.  in the meanwhile, check out these simple money tips.

wednesday--really loving this simple little craft idea.  hoping to make one {or more} soon...maybe even having the kiddos join in with me.

thursday--supposed to be painting most of the walls throughout our living space white in days soon to come.  do you have any idea how hard it is to pick out a white paint?  there are more shades of white than all the other color combined.  there must be.  i'm convinced it's an undeniable fact.  see here.  {also, i asked my IG peeps this week to shoot me their favorite shades of white.  i had approximately 1,347 responses--not really, but it felt like that many--and i don't believe any two recommended the same color.}

friday--if you don't click any of the other links, click this one.  truth.  pure, unadulterated truth.  just.so.good.

because they're too good not to share...
i literally laughed out loud
in case you needed more encouragement to just "keep it real"
he's one of my favorites, this you know.  and this principle applies to so much more than provider/customer relations.

today's docket includes running around here and there with the kiddos...
taking them to a new-to-them library in a neighboring town {it's many times larger than the size of ours and what's even better--our local library card gives us borrowing privileges there!}...
hoping to stop at the garden center for a big potted mum for my back deck {happy fall!}...
dropping raw milk off at a friend's house...

the sun is shining brightly, with a cool breeze in the air.
it's a good, good day.

happy friday, y'all!

{i've been pretty quiet over on instagram the past few days...but this is my favorite from this past week--i'm @tweetpotatopie on there, too...happy flag from my sweet friend natalie}

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

finding balance {gina's story}...

my insightful friend, gina, is sharing her "finding balance" story today.
gina blogs at contemplating beauty and can be found on instagram at @contemplatingbeauty.
gina and i crossed paths via instagram.  
ironically, gina's blog post was one of the three main catalysts in my own finding balance experience.
gina's wise words were so very helpful to me...
i couldn't resist asking her to share a bit with you.


When I was asked by Erin to write a post for her blog about "finding balance" in life, I thought, "Why me, Erin?" Well, I knew why, because she had read one of my blog posts that she said inspired her. Which meant so much to me. But the reason I wondered "why me" is because it's not like I juggle a lot. I don't have a job, I only have one kid and she's off at college now. But I thought to myself, "I still have something to offer, after all I am still a mother, and I did work at one point for many years as a mother."
 For me it isn't necessarily figuring out how to "balance" anything. It's always a matter of the heart. This is what Jesus was all about. He always looked at the heart. That is why He said if you hate your brother, then it's like you have murdered him anyway. It's a heart condition, because we ought not have hate in our hearts or anything else that doesn't align with the Kingdom. Let me explain a bit more, because one of the three things I am going to share is about the heart. Which leads me to the first thing I want to share.

I hear a theme when it comes to life so often. "I try and try and still get nowhere", or something along those lines. Trying has to do with intentions. And intentions don't get us very far. A good intention can last for a little while, but soon burn out because we aren't doing anything about the deeper surface. We aren't addressing the real issue at, you got it, heart. 
You can try try, try all you want, but if your heart condition doesn't change, you will never change. All your efforts will be in vain, because we have to change from the inside out. Good intentions to change your behavior is an attempt to change from the outside IN. And that will never work.

For instance, when you say to yourself, "I'm going to have a great day today! I will not yell and I will not lose my temper with my kids." You have good intentions, right? And that's not a bad thing, it's just an unrealistic thing. A more effective, Godly way to deal with it is by looking directly into your heart. Yep, I'm going there. I know you might not want to. But exposing our hearts is the best thing we can do to have our hearts like Jesus.

In Matthew 6, verse 45 it says, "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks." And Henri Nouwen says it so perfectly from his book With Open Hands, "God is begging to be admitted into the human heart." And, "To be calm and quiet all by yourself is hardly the same as sleeping. In fact, it means being fully awake and following the close attention every move going on inside you.

If you or I are actually yelling at our kids, (maybe this isn't your issue, but think of something that IS YOUR issue that doesn't align with the Kingdom), there is a reason for it. And the reason isn't because you are stretched, exhausted and they are naughty. The issue has to do with much more than that. 

I was raised in an alcoholic home; my dad was a drunk, and he yelled all the time. We learned what we saw. So, sure enough, I took yelling into my adult life and into my marriage. For some reason I did not yell at my daughter, but I did at my husband. So one of the reasons we yell, if you are a yeller, is maybe because you learned it from your childhood. Also, maybe you have a wound deep within that hasn't been healed and you are dealing with it on the outside in the form of yelling. So there are two reasons you might be yelling. 
This is just one example of exposing your heart. It's about getting to the root of repetitive sin or bad habits in your life. And the one way to do that is to dig deeper into the depths of your heart and deal with what's in there that doesn't look like Jesus. There is a something deeper to the surface of your behavior. And your good intentions might last a week if you are lucky.
 Seek. Ask. Ponder. Wonder. Beg. Pray. Write. Plead. Cry. Shout. God will show you what needs to be revealed so He can give you a heart like His. This world has just jaded it. You want to BE how you were originally created to be. And by looking straight into your heart, asking God to expose you, is one of the best ways to do that. So long, good intentions. We don't need to "try" when God is changing us from the inside out!

“I am not going to stay stuck in that. I am trusting the Person who dwells in me. I am talking to Him. I trust in Him; therefore I am talking to Him, because I have no thought of making this thing work without interacting with Him.” Mike Bickle

Our external life is a reflection of our internal life.

"For out of the heart comes evil thoughts." Matthew 15:19

We have got to start becoming detectives of our minds. That's why the New Testament talks about "renewing our minds", and "taking thoughts captive". We are fallen, broken human beings, and all we are really doing is working to get back to who we were originally created to be. If we start with our thought life, and take thoughts that are not of God or that are ungodly, even in reference to ourselves, we can start to apply or replace those thoughts with Truth. When that starts to become a habit, then our feelings and emotions are more sanctified with the Lord's. Because feelings come from thoughts. Which then leads to behavior. And we want to look like Christ.

2.) ACT-What got Erin's attention was when I blogged about ACT. It's something I learned and was trained in as a Lay Counselor. It's acceptance therapy. It's all about learning to accept ahead of time that life is life and it will be messy. We have heard that "life is messy" so many times over. But honestly, ACT is looking ahead knowing, realizing and ultimately ACCEPTING that life is painful, it is hard, and we never fully arrive. ACT is accepting ahead of time the full understanding that each day will have a new set of problems. 
Remember in my first paragraph I mentioned how I see "Today is going to be a great day!" constantly? I'm not saying be a negative person. I am a positive, optimistic person myself. But with ACT, we deal in reality more, I think. We understand that each day has its own set of struggles. And that's OK. Some days are amazing, with little-to-no trouble, and some days seem the absolute worst, full of non-stop annoying, clumsy, frustrating things. And I guess some days are somewhere in the middle. 
But accepting that, even though, yes, we are given a new day with new mercies, doesn't necessarily mean it will be a "clean slate" sort of day at the end of it. It's going to be full of triumphs, trials, silliness, sadness, busyness, calmness, loudness, quietness, maturing, complacency, anything and everything! So much of our daily life depends on our awareness and perspective. And not judging ourselves. I like to think of myself as an OBSERVER of self! I gently notice and am aware of my mind, feelings and actions, and continue my walk with God as I submit to His shaping of my life.

3.) RELAX-One thing I have noticed in mothering and housekeeping over the last several years is perfectionism. I see it rampantly, and I'm not totally sure why, but I think it might be because there are so many of us in close community and the comparison game is so high. How can it not be?  There are so many creative, smart, productive women in our circles. 
Not only that, but I think trends can kill us as women and mothers. Trends on the latest baby stuff, homeschooling stuff, and clothing. Trends on the best foods, healthiest meals, and vitamins. Diet fads, hippie fads, hair fads, decorating fads, DIY fads etc.  We are pinterested OUT. How can any one human keep up? I mean it is ENDLESS. And exhausting. 
I used to keep up. Or at least I tried. We changed our lifestyle over in 2002. Ya, I'm old. We got rid of all plastic, we purged our pantry of all preservatives, additives, and fridge free of pesticides and antibiotics. I had glass tube essential oil diffusers for every room and did hot/cold aromatherapy baths weekly. I drank only spring lukewarm water. I unplugged my microwave everyday. The list goes on. It was exhausting and only brought me further away from the heart of my Father. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21

I am not saying it's not a good thing to care about any of these things or to practice any of these things. I am saying it is my personal experience and opinion that the average woman today gets completely wiped out from these things if they take hold of her life. If they become idols. Idols are anything that we worship or spend more time in or on than God.

 Because perfection is an illusion, what ends up happening is that we fall short of all these things we are keeping up with and then we feel like the worlds biggest losers if we have a piece of pizza or dessert. We can become so engrossed in what is "in".  At least I did anyway. Every one of these things I mentioned might have a place in your life, but are you clinging to it? Are you focused and "trying" to achieve something with these things so that it invades your thought life? 
I've learned to relax. Hold on loosely to so much of this stuff. When I zoom out, I think about people. Others. The Cross is so others-focused. That is the true essence of the Cross. Yet all these things are about self. Hmmm.

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4:8 

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

I say look onto a new day with loose thoughts of how you eat, live, dress and buy. I am now less rigid. I've taken it all in stride now and I don't get life from these things. They are good things, or at least can be. But they can also be not-so-good things. Just like too much of anything in life. Besides Jesus.

So if you are wondering how I find balance, it's more of becoming balanced is what I have found works for me. I live and am changed from the INside OUT. I have an internal dialogue and am aware of my heart. And I bring it before the Lord hourly and specifically seek out how to have a "heart transplant" so I can be more like Him. It's hard sometimes, because we never want to face what "needs to go" in our lives/hearts. But I guarantee if you start internally, externally you will see more "balance".

Thank you!

{the other posts in this series can be found here.}

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