Thursday

Book Review: Fearless


I confess that my reading has gone a little bit the way of my blogging (truly, what HAVE I been doing??? Not mopping, that's for sure!) But I have read a few really good reads that I need to tell you about here.

One such book is Fearless by Max Lucado. Written in typical Lucado-style (easy, conversational), Fearless approaches the most frequently given command in scripture: "Do not fear." Lucado combines scripture, personal confession, and antecdotes from history to tell how we can approach life fearlessly -- how God would have it.

Some favorite quotes:

"Fear may fill our world, but it doesn't have to fill our hearts. It will always knock on the door. Just don't invite it in for dinner."

"Fear corrodes our confidence in God's goodness."

"The worship of safety emasculates greatness."

"The abundance of possessions has a way of eclipsing God, no matter how meager those possessions may be."

I do confess that about half-way through the book, I lost interest for a time. I wanted to turn to Max and say... "Okay, I get it. Live fearlessly. Don't fear. Got it. Check. Move on." Because, of course, if you write an entire book about living fearlessly, some of it may get to be a little redundant. However, I plugged ahead out of... duty or something. And was rewarded by my favorite part of the book that is in the last chapter or two of the book. A very good insight about how this life simply doesn't compare to the next. And one I need to hear... every hour of every day. Yes, of course, Max reminded us of 2 Corinthians 4:17: For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Amen and amen.

And... as to the "redundant" part -- well, if God thinks it was necessary to remind us again and again and AGAIN "Do not fear" -- we probably need the reminder more than once.

Do not fear.

All in all, I would recommend Fearless. It would probably do well for a group study, but I would imagine that would get bogged down and/or redundant, as well.

Wednesday

Mom's Day Off

originally in Abilene Families


An intruding hand poked into the warm sanctuary of my bed.

“Are you getting up, or are you sick?”

Ugh. Didn’t I tell them it was my day off? Since those are about as common as leap years around here, I’m sure more explanation was necessary.

I crawled out enough to glance at the clock. 6:50. I’ve usually been up for well over an hour by now, and I was planning on getting up at 7 anyway.

“No, I’m fine. I was just sleeping in a little today. I’m getting up now.”

The holidays are hectic for everyone but my family usually has a blissful ‘time out’ period when all outside activities cease and we spend our time with only family for a few days, resting and regrouping.

This year was a little different. I took on more writing assignments than usual and had several deadlines looming right after the holidays. I was thankful for the work and the confidence my clients entrusted to me, but by the end of January I really began to lose steam. I realized I was due a mom’s time out.

I would love to tell you that the realization that a day off was necessary came as a gentle decision made with forethought for my mental health. However, the need was made obvious when my husband asked for help with a simple task and I dissolved into a pile of tears on the floor. It was past time for me to have a day off.

I began clearing my calendar and finding a spot for a day of respite. Of course it was eight days after my nuclear reactor level meltdown, but I was still in need. I told writing clients that I would be unavailable that day. I rescheduled a child’s orthodontist appointment. I became giddy at the thought.

I crawled out from under the covers, still anticipating the day in front of me. I have been known to take a day off to get things checked off my list. I have taken a day to spend time organizing my life and setting our family in order. My only order of business for this particular day was to simply rest and relax. If I wanted to, I would; If I felt like I had to, I wouldn’t.

I went about my morning with my family as usual, getting everyone off to school and work. Then... I stood. Frozen in the middle of my living room as if my feet had taken root. I found that I had absolutely no idea what I should do to relax.

Ummm... I think I used to read books? Okay, let’s try that. Yes, I shall read. But first, I should... No. No “I should’s” allowed. That went on for an embarrassing amount of time while I debated starting a load of laundry or making an appointment for a family member.

I finally decided not to even start down the road of “just this one thing” that I could do that was productive.

Today, rest would be productive.

I grabbed a book, snuggled back into bed, and read. And napped. I watched a few moments of TV, then decided that wasn’t relaxing, so I found a different book. And napped again. Yes, I turned into your average sloth. And it was quite enjoyable.

My day off was a success but far too short. Life cranked back up to full speed immediately, but I learned that life could survive without me for a day. I also found that it’s possible to stop and take some time for myself along the way before I crash into the carpet. If that doesn’t work, I’m calling in sick.

Mom? I'm Bored

originally in Abilene Families

I was in the shower. Alone, as tends to be my practice. So a child wandered into the bathroom, of course. Does anyone remember back before they had kids when a bathroom was a sanctuary instead of a thoroughfare? Me neither.

“Mom? I’m bored...”

This was the first day of spring, the last day of spring break. Yeah, the day it snowed? That one. When we had all had all the fun with each other we could stand and couldn’t go outside. I could understand the boredom, but did I mention I was in the shower?

Hmmmm.... I would have to think on this one. Since I didn’t bring my “Bag-o-Entertainment” into the shower with me, I called out ideas:

“You could fold the clothes in the dryer!”

“What about picking up all those things off the floor of your room?”

“I’ve got it! You could write a 500-word essay on how my mom made my spring break the awesomest ever!” (My kids are accustomed to their writer mom using invented words such as “ridonkulous” or “awesomest”. Do not attempt until your children know the difference).

I couldn’t see the accompanying eye roll, but the child did wander away. Hoping for less sarcasm, I presume, though I was perfectly serious with all of those options as something to do.

When the kids were younger I had an “I’m Bored” jar. It had slips of paper in it with different activities on each slip of paper. Some of the activities may be a fun idea: “Build a fort with the covers from your bed,” “Draw a picture for Nonna and Grandad,” or “Play hopscotch with Mom.”

However, some of the activities weren’t so fun: “Clean windows for 10 minutes,” “Give the dog a bath,” or “Clean out a dresser drawer”. So, it was a gamble to draw from the jar -- would it be something fun or not? A job or a joy? (A funny side note: in asking my kids about their memory of this jar, they did not believe that I had any fun things in the jar, only jobs).

I found out which of my children will lose their shirts in Vegas as an adult, and which of the two isn’t willing to risk anything. Oh, don’t act as if you don’t want to encourage gambling in your children. I’ve seen you at Gatti’s.

One of my children never tried. One of them tried a few times, though I kept the jar on a shelf for a year or two. If nothing else, it kept the complaints to a minimum. Rather than complain to me and be threatened with drawing from the jar that I now realize they thought only contained jobs, they went off and found something to do that entertained themselves. I guess in that regard it promoted creativity, as well.

Perhaps it’s time for a teen version of the “I’m Bored” jar. However, most of the jobs my kids are capable of doing, they already do. Some fall into the “you live here, eat my food, wear my clothes, and use my gasoline so I expect you to do that” category, and a few are the “I’ll pay you ‘x’ for doing this” category. For those that I’ll pay them to do, I can’t afford to have them draw out of the job jar every time they get bored.

But who really has time to be bored anyway? What with all the texting, Facebooking, and I-have-to-be-there-5-minutes-ago going on. And soon (oh, all too soon) it will be friends picking up in the car going here and there, hither and yon. I’m not sure I’m ready for that, either.

Perhaps I will make myself a prayer jar, full to overflowing, with the prayers of a momma who realizes that these babies were never really hers to keep anyway. And, eventually, perhaps I shall shower in peace, as well.


Monday

Marriage Monday: Just Joking!

I really don't enjoy practical jokes. That may baffle you, because I see humor in pretty much every situation, but I really don't like practical jokes, whether they are being played on me or other people. As you might imagine, April 1st really isn't fun for me, either.

I caught a few minutes of America's Funniest Home Videos last night and a few of the videos were of people giving their friends, family, or spouses fake lottery tickets, causing them to believe they had won $10,000. How mean!

It made me think two things:
1) Troy would think that was SO funny to do to someone.
2) He would never do that to me.

Troy used to play jokes on me, but he saw that I don't like them, so he stopped. I have a seen a few mean spirited husbands (and even dads, which makes me really sad) that know that their spouses or children hate jokes like that, but take great joy in continuing to play jokes on their spouse. It just made me appreciate that, though I never once asked Troy to never again do that to me, he saw that I didn't like it, and stopped.

It's not like I asked him to give up his shotgun collection (gasp!!) or to never play a joke on anyone again (he still has his moments).

I wonder if I have been as sensitive to him about not doing something that bugs him (leaving shoes in the MIDDLE of the floor... ugh... not so much). I may have some work to do.

I'm so very thankful for the man I married and the way he takes care of me -- even the little things that matter to me.

Saturday

Sabbath

Back when I took some Sabbath time for myself from blogging, I began to actually research 'Sabbath'. I came across a book on Sabbath in the bargain bin that I have really enjoyed, and I began to really notice times of rest in scripture and what people (especially Jesus) did for times of rest.

Something that the book pointed out is that, obviously, prior to electricity, the seasons and the rising and setting of the sun dictated natural times of rest. She quoted the National Sleep Foundation as saying that prior to the invention of the lightbulb, people slept an average of ten hours a night. By 2002, Americans were averaging a little less than seven hours of sleep on weeknights and 7.5 hours on weekends.

You may think you can get by with 6 hours or less during the week. First, you can't. You have adapted to walking around in a sleep deprived state. Some people do need less sleep than others, but people do need at least 7.5 hours per night. Your health, work, focus, and attitude (and family) will all thank you.

I am one of those fortunate(?) people who has always known that sleep is important to me. I can feel myself crashing when I don't get enough. I feel like I walk through molasses all day. I feel crummy. And, if that weren't enough, it's a migraine trigger. Sleep is no longer just a guilty pleasure for me -- it's a big deal to my health.

Studies show that you actually are walking through molasses -- your metabolism slows down, too. Sleep deprivation causes weight gain and better yet, plenty of sleep can lead to weight loss.

And? I can just be nicer when I have enough sleep. Can anyone relate?

Obviously, Sabbath isn't only about sleep -- but it's a great place to start. Last week I began to implement two hard and fast rules in my life. They sound pretty selfish, or maybe 'lowest common denominator' -- but that's kind of the point. Because I have found that if I will do these two things, many of the rest of life will fall into place.

Sarah's Current Rules for Sanity:
-- Get plenty of sleep EVERY night (not just on weekends)
-- Spend time with Jesus EVERY day

The end. I have a number for me that is "plenty" and it's kind of embarrassingly high. But I have found that I am getting just as much done as before -- I'm just doing it a little nicer, and with a better attitude.

So, for the stressed out and strung out, I pray that you implement some Sabbath in your life.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Thursday

Back Today

Ahem.

Allow me to introduce myself.

I'm Sarah.

I REALLY like to write! I do, I promise!

I have missed it so!

I have figured out a way to make this thing work and get some blogging done on the side, too.

I really miss doing this, too. We used to be peeps, remember? We used to exchange ideas, we were all about fitness and fun. Never fashion, that I recall, though. Do you? Occasionally recipes, maybe.

And the fits that the word 'occasionally' has given me tells me that there was probably a time that I could spell, too -- but just not in the recent past.

Here's a tip for you: did you know that doing two part-time jobs is really more difficult than doing one full-time job? It's true. It can lead to much crazy-making and maybe even some tears in your home. I'm not sure I recommend it. Yet I cling fiercely to my writing, and am seeing what becomes of my "real" part-time job, that, as far as I can tell, is meetings. I can do meetings with the best of them.

One way to make some blogging time work is that the orthodontist now has wifi. How awesome is he? All that money going for good use! It's about time.

So... I'm not going to overdo it today, but I promise that I will be back. And soon! You doubt, don't you? I know, I don't blame you. But I shall return. Until then, I leave you with the verses I have been starting my day with lately:


Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

Fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing. Psalm 34:8,9
 
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