Monday, February 28, 2011

More of Me Monday: Sensing My Senses

The last couple weeks I've noticed a trend, and it occurred to me that maybe God was wanting me to learn something from it.  You see, I've encountered several individuals over the course of the last couple weeks who, due to some physical ailment or another, have either lost or damaged one of their senses or a limb.  For instance, my grandma was recently diagnosed with glaucoma, which has left her struggling to see clearly.  A precious friend, who has a disease that causes multiple non-cancerous brain tumors, just underwent another brain surgery.  She has had multiple surgeries in her life, many impairing her vision and hearing, but she amazingly is one of the most positive people I know and has a wonderful testimony for the Lord.  I also recently met a young lady who only has one leg (and that was the least of her losses!).  It's amazing that all these things were going on around me, but it took a trip to the dentist to really make me stop and think about it......

A few days ago, as I already mentioned, I made a trip to the dentist to get a filling.  As you might know, the numbness stays for a few hours, which caused me to talk funny and even bite my tongue a time or two.  While this was obviously minor and temporary, it got me to thinking how amazing our senses are and how much they're taken for granted.  Can you imagine how life would be without the ability to see or to hear?  Or what about the sense of touch?  How hard would it be to do normal everyday activities?  God really did think of everything! 

Then God brought to mind all of the individuals in my life who had been struggling with a loss of one or more of their senses or the loss of a limb.  And it reminded of just how blessed I am!  It's so easy to go day-to-day and take all of those things for granted, but God reminded that they are all gifts from Him!  As I continued thinking, my mind went from blessing to blessing (and I'm sure it wasn't even a fraction of all that God has blessed me with!).  And I couldn't help but have a smile on my face and a song in my heart!  God is good!  I'm praying that God continually helps me to see all the blessings He has given to me!

And speaking of senses, I have one more thought to share. I believe that God also gives us a sense of humor, perhaps to help us through the difficult times.  I have a dry sense of humor, much like my dad.  I like to think of it as quick-witted, although others may disagree :).  So I have to share a quick story.  (Keep in mind my dry sense of humor). 

After my dentist took care of my filling, he needed to take impressions of both my upper & lower teeth.  If you're not familiar with what that is, basically they fill a small tray-like structure with what I call "pink goo" and squish it into your mouth.....not exactly the funnest thing to do.  He did the bottom teeth first, left the room for a short time, then returned to do the top.  Again he left the room, returning a short time later to apologetically tell me that this is the first time ever that they didn't turn out and he had to re-do them.  Again, he began with the bottom teeth, left and came back, and followed with the top.  He left the room once more and returned shortly, with a very apologetic look on his face.  By now I had the "pink goo" all over my face and even in my hair.  I'm sure I was quite a site!  (Keep in mind that one side of my face was numb, so I couldn't actually feel the "goo," but there was so much, I could see it out of the corner of my eye!)  He stated that the bottom one turned out this time, but that he had to try the top one once more, and he apologized for making such a mess of me.  He left the room again, this time coming back to tell me that it had finally worked.  However, by this time, he was obviously a little distraught, and kept apologizing as he dampened a paper towel and began wiping off my face for me.  As he finished and apologized once more, in an effort to help change the mood and put a smile on his face, I responded (and this is the punch line in case you're wondering), "Well, you definitely made an IMPRESSION."

Hope this made you smile!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Scripture Sunday: The Flood & The Blood

The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.  The Lord was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was filled with pain.  So the Lord said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth - men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and the birds of the air - for I am grieved that I have made them."  But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord......Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God......... So God said to Noah, I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them......So make yourself an ark.....I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it.  Everything on earth will perish.  But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark - you and your sons and your wife and your sons' wives with you.  You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female.....Noah did everything just as God commanded him.  Genesis 6:5-9, 13-14, 17-19, 22 (NIV)

As I was reading this passage a few weeks ago, I began questioning why chapters 6 & 7 were fairly repetitive?  Then it occurred to me that perhaps God really wanted to get a point across.  After all, when we repeat something, isn't it usually because we either don't think someone is listening or we really want to emphasize the importance of something?  So I decided to delve a little deeper.  I believe that God didn't give us the Old Testament just so we'd have a history lesson (although much of that information is helpful), but rather to teach us something of importance.  I also believe that much of the Old Testament foreshadows or points to Jesus Christ.  As I continued reading & researching, many parallels between Noah's ark and the cross of Jesus began to be revealed to me.  

Genesis 6:8 (NIV) says, "But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.." Another word for "favor", as the King James Version states it, is "grace."  It's interesting to me that Noah was only saved by the grace of God.  Ephesians 2:8 (NIV) states, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." It is only by the grace of God that we are saved from His judgment!  In addition, Noah had to trust God that the flood was actually going to come and that he truly needed to build and enter the ark.  Had Noah not trusted (had faith) in God, he would have been destroyed.

Genesis 6:14 (NIV) says, "So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out."  The King James Version says it like this, "Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch."

I thought it was interesting that the KJV used the word "pitch" twice.  As I researched, I discovered that the Hebrew word for "pitch," when used as a verb ("shalt pitch") is "kaphar," which is used seventy times in the Bible to mean atonement as it relates to blood sacrifice.  The Hebrew word for "pitch," when used as a noun ("with pitch"), is "kopher" and means "price of a life" or "ransom."  In other words, Noah & his family were protected from the flood (God's judgment on the earth) by atonement.  Could it be that the pitch is symbolic of the blood of Jesus, who sacrificed His life, covering all our sins, so that we would be protected from God's judgment?

I also found one reference that stated that wood in the Bible often represents man.  If this is so, could it be foreshadowing that God would become "flesh" or man (John 1:14) in order to be our salvation?

"Put a door in the side of the ark...." (Genesis 6:16 NIV).  Notice that although the ark is huge, there is only one door to the ark....only one way to enter.  In John 10:9 (NIV), Jesus states, "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved."   The KJV uses the word "door" in place of  "gate."  Just as in the ark, there is only one way to be saved.....through Jesus!

"...and make lower, middle, and upper decks" (Genesis 6:16 NIV).  It makes sense that the bottom deck is likely where the larger animals were.  It was probably crowded, dark, & smelly (and it's possible you'd get trampled on by animals!).  The middle deck likely had the smaller animals, but it was still dark & probably smelly.  The upper deck, however, had a window, which could allow both light & air in.  I began to see that although every creature on the ark was saved from the flood, there was definitely a difference in the decks.  Sometimes as Christians, we may feel that just being saved (entering the ark) is enough, but God wants so much more for us!  He wants us to grow in our relationship with Him!  He wants us to have abundant life (John 10:10)!  (This may be a stretch, but I also think it is interesting that a window's primary function is to let light & air in because in the Bible, Jesus is referred to as the light & the Holy Spirit is referred to as wind or breath.) 

Genesis 7:1 (KJV) says, "And the LORD said unto Noah, "Come thou and all thy house into the ark..."  Notice that God gently invited Noah into the ark, but Noah had to make the decision to enter.  ("Come" also implies that God would be there with Noah.  In Matthew 11:28 (NIV), Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  We are gently & graciously invited to come to Jesus, to trust in Him, but ultimately, we have to make the decision.

After Noah had done all that God commanded him & entered the ark, ..."the Lord shut him in" (Genesis 7:16 NIV).  What powerful words!  God, Himself, seals us in. John 10:28 (NIV) says, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand."  That does make me wonder though, did Noah have no control over the door?  Hmmm....that gives me something to think about.  (We do know, though, that he had control over the much light & air he let in.)

After the flood had receded, the Bible states that "the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat" (Genesis 8:4).  After researching, I discovered that "Ararat" likely means "curse is reversed."  The curse of sin & death was reversed by Jesus' death on the cross (Galations 3:13)!

Although the flood represents the judgment, the thought also crossed my mind regarding it's similarity to baptism.  Besides the obvious fact that they both involve water, with the flood, the old was gone, and the new began.  Isn't that what baptism represents, that through faith in Christ Jesus, we are a new creation and the old is gone  (II Corinthians 5:17)?

Finally, Genesis 9:13-15 (NIV) states, "I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth......I will remember my covenant between me and you....Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life."   I found that Revelations 10:1-2 refers to an angel who is robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head, his right foot planted on the sea and his left on the land, and he is holding a scroll containing a message affecting the destiny of the world.  In my research, I also read that it points to "no judgment" for those who are in Christ.  It's interesting that the rainbow God set in the sky represents the very important message to the world that God will no longer destroy the earth by a flood.

One last note: Although I didn't completely research this myself to confirm it's truth, I did find an article that spoke of the meanings of names from Adam to Noah, and if accurate, it is very interesting.

Adam = Man
Seth = Appointed
Enosh = Mortal
Kenan = Sorrow
Mahalalel = The Blessed God
Jared = Shall come down
Enoch = Teaching
Methuselah = His death shall bring
Lamech = The Despairing
Noah = Comfort (or Rest)

If you put them all together, it says, "Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the blessed God shall come down teaching (that) His death shall bring (the) despairing rest.”

I am convinced that all of these parallels aren't just coincidences, but that the great flood definitely is symbolic of the blood of Jesus Christ.  What do you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Simplify Saturday: Daily Routines

Last week I focused on tasks that need to be done on a weekly basis, & talked about assigning each of those tasks to a different day of the week.  But what about those things that need to be done daily?  Well, you can use the same strategy, only this time assign them to a different time of the day.

You might remember that last week I mentioned a book called Sink Reflections (which I highly recommend).  The book suggests developing a Morning Routine & a Before Bed Routine to help get those daily tasks accomplished.  For instance, the author shares that before bed she puts dirty dishes in the dishwasher, opens mail, lays out clothes for tomorrow, etc.  Her Morning Routine, on the other hand, not only consists of taking a shower & getting dressed, but also putting on a load of laundry and checking email.  While those particular routines didn't meet my needs or work with my schedule, I did like the general idea, so I went to work assigning my daily tasks to the different routines.  I found it helpful to add an Afternoon Routine, too. 

Now I must admit that in writing this, I am talking to myself as well!  There are many weeks, especially lately, when I don't follow my routines, but I've found that when I do, I feel much more in control, organized, & energized!  While it may seem complicated, it really simplifies life!  When your routines become a habit, you can fly right through them, and once finished, your mind can be at ease for the rest of the day!  I also found that gradually adding tasks to the routines, rather than trying to do everything right away, helped keep me from becoming too overwhelmed in the beginning.

To give you an idea of what my routines look like, here is what I put together for my Afternoon Routine, which I do immediately after I get home from work (when I'm actually following my routines!):

 - Clean Trash Out of Car (as I'm getting out of the car)
 - Sort Through Mail (File, Shred, Trash, etc.)
 - Pick Up Clutter (When I'm keeping up with my routines, things don't seem to get nearly as messy.  So I simply spend about 5-10 minutes walking through the house & picking up any clutter that's accumulated in the last, dishes, etc.  Now when I'm not following my weekly schedule & routines, there is way too much clutter to pick up in that amount of time, but at least I can get a few things picked up.)
 - Start a Load of Laundry if needed
 - Start the Dishwasher or Unload Clean Dishes if needed
 - Change into My Workout Clothes (I find that if I change into my workout clothes, I'm much more likely to actually workout!)
 - Charge Cell Phone

All of this takes me about 45 minutes tops.....less if there is no laundry or dishes to do.  The important thing is to adjust it to fit your own needs.  Maybe an afternoon routine doesn't work for you, but a dinner time routine would be helpful.  In the beginning you might try only one or two tasks, and after they become habit, add another one or two.  Do what you have to do to make it work for you! 

I'm ready to get back to simplifying my life!  How about you?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Favorites: Cross My Art

I want to share one of my recent purchases that has quickly become one of my favorite things!  Last fall at An Affair of the Heart in OKC I saw & fell in love with this cross art. 
(For those of you who aren't familiar with An Affair of the Heart, it's so much fun.  Twice a year in OKC, hundreds of vendors - enough to fill up 7 or 8 buildings - selling everything from jewelry to decor to kitchen utensils, gather in one place to sell their merchandise.  It's the ultimate shopping never know what treasures you might find!)

Not only did I love the layered crosses & the distressed wood frame,  but I loved the colors.  And for those of you who know me, it's a given that I loved the animal print!  Right away I knew the perfect spot for coordinated perfectly with our bedroom colors and we had a blank wall just begging to be decorated!  The only problem was it was already sold.  I was so disappointed!  But my disappointed quickly turned to excitement as I was told that if I wanted to order one, she would bring it with her to the February Affair of the Heart! 

At the time, it seemed so far away, but before I knew it February had rolled around.  I excitedly went to pick up my new treasure! 

Getting back to the car with it, on the other hand, wasn't so exciting!  It's not the easiest thing to carry, & I had to walk close to a mile, avoiding muddy "snow puddles," along the way.  I even had a couple strangers remark that I was probably regretting having bought it now.  While I courteously laughed and nodded my head, inside I was thinking it was worth every step!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tablescape Thursday: Winter's End

"As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease."  Genesis 8:22 (NIV)

February is winding down, which means winter is coming to an end.  Okay, so I know that winter isn't technically over until the 3rd week of March, but it my mind, once March hits, it's spring!  And boy do I have spring fever this year!  This has been one crazy winter....a week or so ago we had about a foot of snow, and then the last couple days we hit 80*.  That's Oklahoma for ya!  And this little taste of spring has left me wanting more! 

So this past weekend as I was packing up the last of my winter decorations (okay, I'll admit it, I still had a couple Christmasy things out!  Eek!), I decided that before I get out all my spring decor, I'd throw together one more wintery tablescape to signify the end of winter & the beginning of spring.   And when I say "throw together," I think this was the fastest I've ever put a tablescape together!  Usually I play around with it for a long time, sometimes hours, but this time, I just started throwing things on the table, & liked the way it looked right away!

(You'll have to forgive my wrinkled tablecloth!  Remember, I threw this together.  No time for ironing!)

I started by grabbing a couple of lanterns from our front porch.  I actually have 3 sizes, but decided I only needed the smaller 2 for my tablescape.  I LOVE these lanterns.  When I got them last fall, I attached some greenery with burlap ribbon, added a candle, and set them on our front porch, surrounded by pumpkins & gourds.  When Thanksgiving was over, I simply added some red berries to the greenery & surrounded the candles with faux cranberries, and they were ready for winter!  Now that winter is coming to an end, I'll be replacing the lanterns with a fountain that my hubby is putting together.  Since I was bringing them in anyway, I figured I might as well display them on my table for a few days.

Then I surrounded the lanterns with some "snowy" bird nests & greenery.  Even though they're snowy, the nests remind me that spring is just around the corner.

And, of course, I had to use my bird nest chargers....again to symbolize the changing of the seasons.

I chose to use my snowflake salad plates atop cream color dinner plates.  The edges of the dinner plates kind of remind me of snowflakes, too. 
The light green napkins tie in the color of the greenery & help to give the plates some definition. 

A little sprig of berries adds a pop of color to the neutral palette.

And because this time of year around here, you never know whether you'll need an iced tea or some hot cocoa, there's a goblet & a mug to quench either thirst.  A coordinating napkin, in a light tan color, is tucked inside the mug for a little extra pizzazz.

And my very favorite thing about this tablescape is that I didn't have to buy a was already stuff I had around the house.  (Hmm, maybe that's why it came together so fast!)

I hope you've enjoyed this "Winter's End" tablescape as much as I enjoyed putting it together. 

Tablecloth - Ross
Lanterns - The Market in OKC (Pottery Barn has the exact same ones, but I have to admit, they're about 2x as much as I paid!)
Greenery/Burlap Ribbon - The Market in OKC
Berry Picks - Hobby Lobby
Snowy Birds Nests - Affair of the Heart in OKC
Bird Nests Chargers - Pottery Barn
Green Napkins/Tan Napkins - Burlington
Cream Dinner Plates - Chris Madden Home Collection/JC Penney
Snowflake Salad Plates - GG (Gracious Goods) Collection/Horchow
Silverware - GG Collection/Horchow
Goblets - GG Collection/Ebay (Horchow also has them)
Mugs - GG Collection/Horchow

I'm joining with Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.  Check them out to see all the beautiful tablescapes.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wildcard Wednesday: My Blog Schedule

Okay, I'm still trying to figure this blogging thing's definitely a work in progress (slow progress, I might add).  But since I talked about "A Purpose A Day" earlier this week, I figured I'd use the same philosophy in developing my blog.  If you've looked over any of my previous posts, you've probably seen a trend starting....Tidbits, Tips, & Tutorials Tuesday, Scripture Sunday, Simplify Saturday, & so on.  And you may have noticed the title to this post is "Wildcard Wednesday." 

As ideas have come to mind about what I wanted to blog about, I've noticed that most of them fall into certain categories, & so I've put together this schedule to kinda help keep it all organized.  (For those who know me, you know how I am about being organized!)

So here is my idea for now:

Scripture Sunday:
This is when I'll share some of the things I've learned from recent Bible reading or just scripture God has put on my heart.

More of Me Monday:
Okay, to be honest, this one I'm still not sure about, but sometimes I might just want to share a little about struggles, a story, etc.  For instance, my 2nd post about being a perfectionist would fall into this category.  This might change a little over time, but I'll leave it for now.

Tidbits, Tips, & Tutorials Tuesday
This one is pretty self-explanatory.  This will be my day to share "how-to's," which could include craft projects, recipes, or other tips.

Wildcard Wednesday:
I decided I needed a day to share anything else that was on my mind that didn't exactly fit into one of the other categories.  (I could also have done Miscellaneous Monday, but I liked the sound of Wildcard Wednesday better.)

Tablescape Thursday:
Of course, with my love for dishes & decorating, I had to have a tablescape day.  (I plan to link with "Between Naps on the Porch" each time, so be sure to click on the link at the bottom of my tablescape posts to see other beautiful tablescapes.)

Friday Favorites:
On Fridays, I'll either share about some of the little things in life that I love or I'll revisit a previous post of's all about my favorites!

Simplify Saturday:
I love to organize, so Saturday will be my day to share organization tidbits, whether it be a gadget or something I've read or something that's just helped me to simplify my life.

So there you have it!  While my plan is to blog as often as possible, life happens, & I don't want to get so caught up in blogging that I miss life!  And I know that it will likely be impossible for me to have something to share in each category every week!  While every day would be ideal, my goal is to blog at least 3 or 4 days a week.  So whether you are just interested in one category or all of them, I hope you follow along & enjoy!

(Oh & by the way, I went back through some of my previous posts & added the daily category to the title.  That's the perfectionist in me!)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tutorial Tuesday: Chicken Tetrazzini

Since I made Chicken Tetrazzini last week for Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share this easy & yummy recipe!

What you'll need:
8 oz. (or small) package of spaghetti
(You can use other types of pasta if you prefer.  The first time I made this was for Valentine's Day many years ago, & I actually found heart-shaped pasta!)
2 cans white chicken OR 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
(I like using the cans of chicken because it's quicker, & I'm all about quick & easy!)
10.5 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
10.5 oz. can cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon onion flakes (optional)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
(I like to use a little more cheese in mine!)
salt & pepper
1 small jar diced pimentos
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 cups Corn Flakes OR 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
(I prefer the Corn Flakes.)
Parmesan, Romano, & Asiago cheese



1) Preheat oven to 325*.
2) Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
3) Boil chicken breasts if not using canned chicken.
4) Mix soups & milk (& onion flakes if desired) together & heat on low to medium.
(Don't let it get to boiling stage.)
5) Add cheese, stirring constantly.
6) Add salt & pepper to taste.
(When all the cheese is melted, move mixture aside.)
7) Drain spaghetti.
8) Mix soup/cheese mixture with spaghetti.
9) Drain chicken (if using canned chicken), OR if cooking fresh chicken, cut up cooked chicken into small pieces.
10) Drain pimentos.
11) Add chicken, almonds, & pimentos to spaghetti.  Mix together.
12) Pour into casserole dish.
13) Crush Corn Flakes.
14) Sprinkle Corn Flakes (or bread crumbs) on top.
15) Sprinkle Parmesan, Romano, & Asiago cheese on top as desired.
16) Cook for 30-45 minutes.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Scripture Sunday: The Shame-Blame Game

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man, "Where are you?"  He answered, "I heard you in the garden, & I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."  And He said, "Who told you that you were naked?  Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"  The man said, "The woman you put here with me - she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."  Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?"  The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, & I ate."  Gen. 3:8-12 (NIV)

When I read these verses, a couple things came to mind.  First, it's interesting that earlier in scripture (Gen. 2:25), it states that Adam & Eve were both naked, but "felt no shame"However, the very second that they sinned, that they disobeyed God, they suddenly felt shame.  That shame led them to hide (or separate) from God.  Isn't that so true?  When we know something is wrong, we tend to do our best to hide it, which in turn only hinders our relationships with God & others.  Remember last week when I shared about being made in God's image & how our purpose is to be a reflection of God?  Well, at the very instance mankind first sinned, that image was marred.  And remember how God's will was for us to find complete security & acceptance through our relationship with Him?  Well, at that same very instance, we not only became separated from God, but we began looking for our security in all the wrong places!  After all, it's hard to find security in our relationship with God if we're shamefully hiding from Him!

This leads to my second point.  When God questioned Adam, Adam not only blamed Eve, but in a round-about way, he blamed God ("The woman YOU put here....").  God then turned to Eve, who of course, blamed the serpent.  Neither one wanted to take responsibility for their own actions.  Why was that?  Could it be because they wanted to still be accepted by God, and they believed that their failure or sin made them unacceptable or unworthy of God's love?  Perhaps they felt that if someone else could be blamed, they'd be relieved of their guilt, or at least if everyone else was guilty too, then they wouldn't look so bad.  We've all done it before......blamed someone else or pointed out someone else's shortcomings in an effort to make ourselves look better.  When you get to the root of it, it all stems from our desire to be accepted.....a desire placed in each of us by God......a desire that can only be fulfilled by God.   So in the long run, the very thing we do to try to gain acceptance only leaves us feeling more unacceptable & unworthy! 

So then what is the answer?  Well, there's good news!  The Bible clearly states that Jesus bore the punishment we deserve for our sins (Isaiah 53:4-6; I John 4:9-11).  He was our substitute.  While God allows us to feel guilt & convicts us of our sins so that we turn to Him, once we acknowledge that we'ved sinned and confess our sins to Him, accepting Jesus as our substitute, we no longer have to feel shame (Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 John 1:9)!  The sin, along with the guilt, has been removed!  Once again, we can find complete acceptance & security in God!  In addition, when we realize that we're completely loved & accepted by God, we are much more likely to love those around us.....building them up & encouraging them, rather than using their failures to try to meet our own needs.

As the story of Adam & Eve continues on, God allows them to experience the consequences (punishment) of their sin, but it's interesting that He then makes garments for them & clothes them.  In other words, He punished them, forgave them, & continued to take care of them, covering their sin & shame (nakedness). 

I don't know about you, but I am simply amazed by God's love for us!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Simplify Saturday: A Purpose A Day Keeps the Stress At Bay

A purpose a day keeps the stress (& clutter) at bay.......Let me first start by sharing a little about my work as a counselor at a hospice.  Several years ago, after struggling to stay on top of my many weekly tasks, I developed a system......a system that I still use to this day because I found that it works so well!  That system was simply this: I assigned each task to a particular day of the week.  For instance, Tuesday is my day to complete all of my letters that need to be sent out for that week.  It's also my day to prepare for our weekly team meeting.  Thursday, on the other hand, is my day for processing donations.  You get the picture.  I still have many other daily tasks, such as actually meeting with my clients (kind of important when you're a counselor) and making phone calls, but it was my weekly tasks that were always being pushed aside.  What I found is that by assigning my regular weekly tasks to a particular day of the week, it is much less overwhelming.  First, it's already planned out for me.  Secondly, I don't have to worry as much about forgetting to do something because the day serves as a reminder for what needs to be done.  Thirdly, because I divided the tasks up, I've found that it's much easier to fit them into my work day or squeeze them in between clients and meetings. 

Not only did I assign tasks according to when they needed to be done (for instance, obviously I need to prepare for our meeting before the meeting takes place), but I also split them up according to the amount of time each task typically takes. That way on Monday and Wednesdays, my days that have morning meetings, I have fewer (or at least less time-consuming) tasks.   I've even planned for some "catch up" time one day a week in case it's a crazy-busy week.  In the beginning I had to play around with it some to figure out what worked best, and over time, as new tasks have been added or changed, I've had to tweek it a little.  And of course, as in most jobs, there are always things that come up at the last minute....a client calls or needs to be seen unexpectedly, a phone call lasts much longer than planned, and so things don't always work out exactly as planned.  But overall, the system has worked great for me! let me get to my point....a couple years ago, in the midst of feeling overwhelmed by my weekly household duties (you know, laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, cleaning, bills, etc.), it hit me!  Why not do the same thing at home that I've been doing at work for years?  I started by making a list of everything that needs to be done at my house daily, everything that needs to be done weekly, everything that needs to be done monthly, and so on.  Then I assigned the weekly tasks to a particular day, and the monthly tasks I assigned to a particulary time of the month (such as the first Saturday).  After testing it out & playing around with it a little, my weekly schedule looks something this:

Monday: Purse & Paperwork 
This entails cleaning out my purse, paying bills, filing, and making my grocery list for the week.  (On a good day, I also try to clean out the refrigerator as I'm making the grocery list so that it will be ready for the new groceries.)

Tuesday: Groceries & Gas 
This includes stopping by the grocery store on my way home - remember I made my grocery list the day before & put it in my purse so I'd have it with me.  It also includes filling up with gas, which I do whether my tank is on "E" or not.  This way I don't have to worry about filling up when I'm running late, which I admit, is often!  Of course, there are always weeks that I drive more & have to fill up in between, but this helps!

Wednesday: Cleaning Part 1
I divided my weekly cleaning into 2 parts so that it would be a little more manageable.  On Wednesday, I dust, vacuum, & sweep.  (I must admit, I love my feather duster, and in order to make the process a little quicker, I usually use it instead of Pledge.  I will typically use Pledge only about once a month, and sometimes I just rotate rooms.  For instance, the first week I'll use Pledge in my bedroom, but the feather duster everywhere else.  The next week I'll use Pledge in the living room, but use the feather duster in my bedroom, and so on.)

Thursday: Cleaning Part 2
On day two of cleaning, I focus on the bathrooms & kitchen, two areas that can get dirty really fast!  I don't have to tell you what all this includes (you know, the mirrors, toilets, bathtubs/showers, countertops, sinks, stovetop, etc.) 

Friday: Family & Fun
I decided I needed a "free" day....a day to either spend time with family or my hubby, or just do nothing.  Most Fridays, my hubby & I either go out to eat with family or we just rent a movie and relax.  If I've gotten all of my weekly tasks done, I'm not worried about everything that needs to be done & it's much easier to just relax.

Saturday: Projects, Pamper, & Play
I use Saturdays for my bigger projects (such as deep cleaning or re-organizing or any other project the hubby & I have been wanting to do around the house) or for any craft projects I've been wanting to do.  I also try to get a mani/pedi at least once every month (that's where the pamper part comes in).  I think it's important to take some time to pamper yourself occasionally.  And then, of course, it's important to take some time to play.....whether it be going to a party or shower or just taking some time to play at home with family.  (I, of course, like to take some time to play with my dishes, too!)  If need be, I also use Saturdays to catch up on any tasks that I didn't get quite finished throughout the week.

Sunday: Rest, Relax, & Renew
I try to make Sundays a time for renewal (both spirit and body).  Although it doesn't always happen this way, my ideal Sunday includes going to church, spending a little time with family over lunch, taking an afternoon nap (there's just nothing quite like a Sunday afternoon nap), and preparing for the beginning of another week.

You may be wondering what happened to laundry & dishes......well, for me it's easier to just do those on a daily basis as needed.  I try to check them daily & when there's enough to start a load, I do it.  (In fact, I have a daily routine, too, but I'll save that for another time.)  Now, I must admit, this is still a work in progress, and there are many weeks that I get off my routine, but the weeks that I actually stick to my plan seem to go much smoother for me!  Not only do I feel like I've gotten more accomplished, but I actually usually feel like I have more free time!  Keep in mind, too, that I try to spend no more than 1-1 1/2 hours a day on the task(s).  And it's amazing how much less stressed I feel!  When I complete the task(s) for the day, I don't have to worry about everything else that needs to be done because I know that it's assigned to another day!  The important thing to remember is to make it work for you, according to what your tasks & needs are.  It should be a tool to help ease your stress, not add to it! 

It's interesting that not too long after coming up with this plan, I came across a book (Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley) that encourages that same type of plan.  I plan to talk much more about the book & it's suggestions in future posts, but I encourage you to pick up a copy & read it.  It has some great practical advise on keeping up with your household duties. 

Also, I just had to mention that the "purpose a day" is Biblical.  Remember last week when I blogged about the creation?  Well, if you think about it, it's a great example of having a purpose for each day!  Plus, God made the last day a day for rest as well. 

So there you have it.....try it out & see if it doesn't help ease your stress & reduce your clutter!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Favorites: Magazine Madness

Welcome to "Friday Favorites"!  I've decided to make Fridays a time for either sharing some of the little things in life that I enjoy, or later on (after I have a few more posts to choose from), revisiting some of my favorite posts.  I figure if something is worth blogging about, why only share it once? 

As you might have figured out by the title, I LOVE magazines......especially if they deal with decorating, tablescapes, parties, or organizing!  In fact, most girls probably prefer flowers or chocolate or jewelry for Valentine's Day (and not that I don't like those things), but my husband must know me pretty well because he got me magazines!  (He did throw in some chocolate covered pretzels, too! Yum!)  I was one happy girl!!

Here are a few more recent purchases:
"Southern Lady" is one of my favorite magazines!  And see that "Romantic Homes" peeking out from behind it?  That was a gift from my mother-in-law.  As part of our Christmas, she got both me & my sister-in-law a subscription!

You can never have too many magazines!  I usually keep one or two in my car or bag, so that if I have a couple extra minutes or if I'm waiting somewhere, I have a little reading material!  Well, I better magazines are calling my name!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tablescape Thursday: With All Of My Heart(s) - Celebrating 10 Valentine's Days Together!

Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."  Matthew 22:37

For the last couple weeks I'd planned to surprise Mr. Dishaholic (I'm sure he'll just love being called that) with a special Valentine's dinner.  After all, this was our 10th Valentine's Day together (3 while dating & 7 married).  I had come up with this elaborate plan to leave work early, pick up my needed supplies from the store, and go over to my parents' to prepare the meal so that he would not have any clue.  My idea was to tell him that I'd made reservations for us at a restaurant and that we could just meet there after work.  Only instead of me actually meeting him at the restaurant, I planned to call & tell him I was running a little late and to go ahead and go in to the restaurant and tell them we have reservations.  In reality, I was going to drop off a card about 15 minutes before and have the host/hostess give him the card, which would tell him to meet me at our house in an hour.   In the meantime, I would go to our house & get the table set up & finish the food prep.  Woo!  That makes me tired just thinking about it!  Those were my plans anyway, but instead, it went something like this...... 

The weekend before Valentine's Day we were both visited by an unwanted guest...a stomach virus!  Ugh!  I was feeling somewhat better by Sunday, but not only did it put me behind on my planning & gathering supplies for the table, but it also left me feeling very tired.  Knowing I was short on time and tired, Sunday evening I decided to forgo the surprise & let him know about the dinner.  I gave him a card that asked him to be my valentine & join me for a special "10th Valentine's Day" celebration on Monday evening.  I figured that would help reduce a little of the stress & give me more time to get things accomplished.  It seemed good in theory anyway.

So Monday, I left work around lunch time & headed to pick up my supplies.  What I thought was going to be a quick trip turned into a much longer trip as I ended up having to go to several stores to get everything I needed.  Not to mention that when I got home I realized I had the wrong kind of flour!  So back to the store I went! 

To make a long story short & get on to the good stuff, let's just say that things took much longer than planned, and after much frustration, and several hours later I wasn't even close to having dinner prepared.  In fact by 6 or 7pm, I only had the chocolate covered strawberries & oatmeal lace cookies finished (& that was with my poor hubby's help!).  On top of all that, he was still feeling extremely sick.  Oh & did I mention I was on call for work & got called out later in the evening & didn't get home 'til 4:30 am?!  While memorable, it was definitely not the Valentine's night I had envisioned!  So having said all that, we ended up having our Valentine's dinner tonight.  I guess better late than never!

However, the one thing I did manage to complete by Valentine's evening was the tablescape.....after all, as long as there's a good tablescape, does it really matter what, or if, you eat? :)

My inspiration for this tablescape came from 2 sources.  The first one was simply hearts..... I went around the house, looking through Christmas ornaments & other decorations, gathering all of the red hearts I could find (hence the name, "With All of My Heart(s)").  Of course, it was an excuse to purchase a few more, too!  My second source of inspiration was the fact that this was our 10th Valentine's Day together so I wanted to make it special.  Looking back through some old photos, I came across a few from our 2nd Valentine's Day, which just so happened to also be the first tablescape I ever put together!  So I decided to use some of the same things for this tablescape as I did for that one!

First I started with a basic white tablecloth.  On a recent trip to Target, I saw this red blanket with the hearts "punched out" on the ends & I knew it would be perfect for my table.  Plus, it was only $4.99.  You can't beat that!

At each place setting, I layered the heart plates on top of square red plates.  It's hard to tell in the pictures, but I actually have a black dinner plate layered between the red plate & the black rhinestone charger.

I decided to use a couple of my heart ornaments as napkin rings.

Then I used the same glasses we used for our 2nd Valentine's Day!  (They were painted by mother-in-law).  Conveniently, they also served as our place cards since our names are on them.

For the centerpiece, I gathered some glass jars from around the house.  I filled one with a bunch of red heart ornaments & topped it off with some ribbon.  Another I filled with the chocolate covered strawberries, and the last one I filled with the oatmeal lace cookies.  I added a couple ornaments to the tops as well.  

All was going well, & then it happened!  I was holding my very favorite heart ornament by the string, when the string suddenly broke & the heart fell to the floor, shattering into a hundred pieces!  It broke my heart (get it? :) ).  That was just one of the many mishaps on that memorable night! 

I also added a few pictures of us during our dating years.  Of course, it just wouldn't be complete without a picture of us sitting at the table that served as the inspiration for this one!

And you can't have a romantic dinner without candlelight!  (These candles just so happen to be the very same ones we used before, too).

Our menu for the evening consisted of:
 chicken tetrazzini (the same thing I cooked on our 2nd Valentine's Day)
garden salad
 oatmeal lace cookies
chocolate covered strawberries
And last, but not least, sweet tea for my sweetie

After all this talk about our 2nd Valentine's Day (& my first ever tablescape), of course I had to include a picture of it.  Do you see the similarities?

red/white heart plates - Kohls
red square plates - by Sonoma/Kohls (many years ago)
black plates- by Rosanna
rhinestone chargers - Michael's
silverware - Walmart (many years ago)
white napkins - Pier 1
(I can't remember where I got the red napkins from)
heart ornaments - Michael's & Hobby Lobby
glass jars - Hobby Lobby
red blanket "tablecloth" - Target

I'm joining with Susan from Between Naps on the Porch for