How the Story Ends

Ephesians 210

I am the mother of a high school senior.  Can you guess what the question of the year is from every family member, church friend, grocery store employee, neighbor, and person we just met five minutes ago?

“So Asa, what are you going to do next year?”

Mmmhmm.  It’s a fair question.  People are curious, and in fact, I appreciate that so many care enough to ask.

It would be nice if we had an answer. It would be great if there was plan in place.  But right now, the answer is a solid, “I don’t know yet.”

Not only does he not know, I mean – he does not know.  The options are pretty much without limit, which makes the decision both very exciting and occasionally very overwhelming.  The months building up to this school year as I was figuring out his senior year curriculum just about did me in.  What should we focus on?  How much should we work to improve his ACT?  How should we guide him?  What will be best for him?

All are valid questions.  But when I started losing sleep and noticing a shortage of oxygen at the very mention of Asa’s future, I recognized that I had taken this all upon myself and landed myself in a pool of worry.  I hate it when I do that.  I know better.

So I’m wrestling.  I’m walking a brand new path and learning as I (let) go.  I started to tell someone recently, “Hopefully, this time next year we’ll have a great story to tell about how God opened and closed doors to lead Asa to whatever he’s going to be doing.”  Then I stopped myself.  Hopefully?  Hopefully?!!?  Have I not experienced God at work before?  Do I not know the truth from Ephesians about God preparing works in advance for us?  How about we switch the word “hopefully” with “definitely”?  Definitely, this time next year we WILL have a great story to tell about how God opened and closed doors to lead Asa to whatever he’s going to be doing.

He will.  God will do it.  We will have a story.  Our job is to trust.  And maybe to cry a little here and there.  Hey, he’s my firstborn.  You want to try and tell me it’s easy to think of launching this fantastic kid out of the nest a year from now?  (I know.  11 months from now.  Hush.)

One particularly weepy day for me last week, God put a dear friend in my path whom I haven’t visited with in several months.  I didn’t tell her I was wrestling with this.  In fact, I didn’t use many words at all.  I didn’t need to.  Just sharing the words “senior year” was enough for her to read my mind and heart.  See, she’s done this before…four times.  Her youngest graduated last year.  She knows.  She knows.  God used her to bless me, encourage me, and to remind me of what I already know to be true:

God already has this figured out.  He will make it happen.  Our job is to listen and walk with Him.

She told me about a fun card someone had given her last year when she was going through a difficult time with her dad’s illness.  I loved what it said and decided to recreated it for you (and me).

I hate to spoil the ending...

Yes, yes, yes!  We know this.  We’ve experienced this.

The end of the story?  We already know how it’s going to turn out.  We might not know the specifics, but we know it’s going to be great, because God is in charge, not us.

Oh, God.  You’re so good.  You know what we need, and you bless us constantly with your truth.  Help us to hear it.  Help us to live it.  Help us to accept your continual gift of peace.  We trust you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you’d like, feel free to download the images on this page to print and use.  Click the links below:

I Hate To Spoil the Ending ~ Create a Card

I Hate to Spoil the Ending ~ Full Size Wall Print

For We Are God’s Handiwork ~ Full Size Wall Print

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5 Ways To Save Money While Becoming Healthier

blueberry_streusel_muffin

Remember how my healthy living journey started?

A decade ago, clipping and using coupons was one of my favorite hobbies.  I got Hamburger Helper for 33¢ a box, Windex for 49¢, and cans of green beans for a dime.  Cheap or free – that’s what I looked for when purchasing the food we ate, the cleaning products we used, and the tissues that wiped our noses.  I was the Coupon Queen, and I rocked that job.

Then, our fourth baby was born with chronic eczema.  Suddenly our poptart-filled lives needed to change drastically.

We recognized right away that we could no longer use regular (cheap) laundry detergents as they caused major break-outs for Malachi.  Anytime a spray cleaner was used, he would be even more miserable.  Before he was a year old, we realized that everything we brought into our home – from food to cleaning supplies to medicine – needed to be changed.

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Dark Chocolate Almond Granola - Less Than $1 Per Serving

I’m thankful for the kick-start we received so that our whole family could become healthier, but it really was quite a difficult and discouraging time full of question marks.

A loving friend who knew I was trying to find better foods and cleaning supplies for my family handed me her health food co-op catalog.  She said it helped her family save money.  Excitedly, I started skimming the pages.

With one glance, I was soooo disappointed!  These were the best prices to be found on healthy food and household products?  Seriously?  I was used to paying pennies for our food and cleaners.  And what even was half of that stuff they listed in there?  Kimchi, kombucha, coconut milk?  Weird…and expensive.

Well, here we are, a million and a half life lessons and experiences later.  Thankfully, I’ve learned the importance of investing in nourishing foods and non-toxic household items for our better health.  I’ve also learned many new ways to save money – the healthy way.  Isn’t God cool?  He always provides what we need – from finances to information to ideas to support.

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Easy Chicken Pot Pie – Less Than $1 Per Serving

I still have a lot to learn.  I don’t always practice these money saving methods perfectly.  But I do my best to save money and be healthy at the same time.  I’ll continue to share the great deals I find and the tips I come across.  I know this journey can be hard, and I want to encourage you in any way I can!

The Healthy Living Bundle I’ve been talking about so much this week?  That’s probably the very best deal available anywhere I could find to share with you.  Nine years into this healthy living journey, I am learning so much by reading each piece of information included.  I love that I don’t have to become an expert on everything – I can just learn from others who know more than I.  The bundle is a fantastic investment to save you hundreds and hundreds of dollars as you journey on toward healthier living.  If you can swing it, get it.  You won’t regret it.

You’ll want to be sure and check out our
entire section of real food meals for $1 per plate!

Here are five of my favorite ways to save money while striving for good health:

1.  Make it Homemade

You already know this about me, so I’ll just briefly say – it saves our family hundreds of dollars every month when I make most of our simple meals from scratch.  Here are some of the highest money-saving foods I make:

Beyond food, I’ve found that it saves a lot of money to make our own cleaning supplies (see #2 below).   I’m also very interested in learning to make bars of soap.  That would save loads of money!  I’ve skimmed the Natural Soap Making eBook in the bundle and can’t wait to really dig in.

Natural Soap Making Cold Process Basics & Recipes

2.  Skip it Altogether

While I used to have a specific cleaning product for every single cleaning need on the planet, I’ve found that it’s not necessary at all.  Do I really need to spray chemicals from a can onto my dusting cloth before wiping down my furniture?  Um…who knew a bit of water would work just as well if not better?  (sometimes I amaze myself)

I use a great All-Purpose Cleaner from Tropical Traditions for tougher jobs.  Otherwise, simple household items like baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice are completely healthy, inexpensive, and pretty much amazing.  A great way to save money is to make your own household cleaners (see #1 above).  I’ve loved learning great recipes and tips for this in the five books included in the Healthy Living Bundle that will save me even more cash.

DIY Natural Household Cleaners

3.  Think Outside the Box

What if the way we’ve always done things isn’t necessarily the only way to do it?  What if doing something different might be healthier and save money too?  It’s hard to think outside the box sometimes – especially if anything outside of our norm seems foreign to us.  But on your healthy living journey, you’ll find it’s great to save money by exploring new ideas.

For instance, I used to run my kids to the medical clinic for every sniffle or bump.  The costs really added up, but what’s a mom to do?  I am so thankful for what I’ve learned the past few years about treating my family at home when possible.  Doctors and clinics are there for a reason, and we certainly use them when we need to.  But home remedies, essential oils (I’m just digging into these and LOVE what I’m learning!), natural options for keeping on top of illnesses - these are keeping us healthier and saving us hundreds of dollars too.

Lavender at Lake Balaton,Hungary

This eCourse is one of the most popular items in the bundle,
so I wanted to be sure and highlight it.  It’s an amazing resource.

4.  Plan Ahead

While it isn’t possible to see into the future, there are a few constants in life we can prepare for.  For instance:

  • You will always need toilet paper and laundry detergent.
  • We all need to eat three times a day.
  • Christmas is always December 25.

Planning for what I know will be needed saves my sanity and keeps us from spending money we don’t need to spend.  Making meal plans each week has saved me so much money!  You can see all my weekly menu plans here.

MEALS ePlanner

Purchasing Christmas gifts throughout the year when I see something on sale saves loads of money – which has nothing to do with a healthier lifestyle, except that it keeps me from becoming crazy, so it totally counts.  Buying cases of toilet paper online so that I never run out is a life saver and money saver too.  Which leads me to…

5.  Use Online Resources

I continue to be amazed about the awesome deals I find online.  Not only am I saving money on the items themselves, I’m saving all kinds of gas money and travel time.  I love that I can shop at my convenience, and save time by having items shipped (usually, for free) to my door.

I always try to share great online deals with you here when I find them.  You’ll find a button on my sidebar for our Amazon Deals page, which I update regularly with all the 20% off plus coupon deals I find at Amazon.  Huge savings there!

Tropical Traditions runs free shipping deals every few weeks, along with sale prices.  WHICH, this weekend happens to be a free shipping special AND they finally are offering a 40% discount on their Organic Palm Shortening at the same time!!!!!  I’m so excited about this, I bought two gallon-sized buckets!  Get a great deal on palm shortening and free shipping too!  (Plus get a free coconut oil book if you are a new customer and shop through my referral link here.)  Use the code 12914 for free shipping to apply.

palm_shortening

Phew, this is a long post.  If you’ve stuck with me this long, you’re in for a treat!  MadeOn is offering one of you a $25 Gift Certificate to spend in their shop!

MadeOn is one of my very favorite online resources.  I use their BeeSilk Hard Lotion all the time.  Their products are completely safe and wonderful for the skin.

You may have noticed that every single one of us who purchases the Healthy Living Bundle gets a FREE package from MadeOn worth $16.50.  This freebie along with the other natural living freebies (like herbal remedies from Trilight Health and yogurt starter from Cultures For Health - woot!) make the bundle worth the purchase a million times over.  The bundle will only be around for three more days.

madeon

This is why it’s extra sweet that MadeOn is giving away an bonus $25 gift certificate here!  Leave a comment on this post if you’re interested.  (Subscribers, click over to the post on my blog to leave a comment for a chance to enter.)  I’ll draw a random winner on Wednesday, September 17.  Be watching for a post stating the winner as you will be responsible for contacting me if your name is chosen!

Share with us – what are your best tips for saving money on your healthy living journey?

This post contains affiliate links.

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We’re Hitting Restart – But Before We Do…

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-retro-seamless-pattern-set-image20825059

Thank you all for joining me in hitting the restart button this fall.  It’s going to be so much fun to settle into the season together!  But first, let’s chat…

Once we decide to hit the restart button on our lives, it can be way too easy to get pumped up to jump right into every single bit of every single thing we hope and dream to be and to do – all at the same time.  We know changes need to be made, we greatly desire to offer the best to our families, and we’re tired of not quite hitting the mark.

Before we know it, we’ve made a vow to daily scrub our floor boards, have no less than 28 casseroles in the freezer at all times, and never, ever raise our voice to our children again.  We’ve decided to get back into smaller jeans by Thursday, sleep 8.5 hours every night, and hand-craft all Christmas and birthday gifts with recycled materials.  Because we feel that we can certainly accomplish all this and then some, in an effort to be everything we can possibly be for our families, we eagerly sign ourselves up for yodeling classes.

yodel 1

Clearly, once we all master the art of yodeling, we will have arrived.  Clearly.

You know how this works right?  We hit the restart button and then start restarting everything at once.  Very soon, we get overwhelmed with it all, end up hating every bit of it, succeed at nothing, and hang our heads all the way to the fast food drive-thru four nights in a row.

Deciding to do too much and thinking you can actually pull it off is just…too much.

You can’t put 28 casseroles in the freezer and then sleep 8.5 hours that night so stop thinking you can.  Smaller jeans aren’t the be all and end all, so stop focusing on that and simply work to nourish your body better.   Nobody wants an earring holder made from a toilet paper tube, so if handcrafted recycled gifts aren’t your thing, please do not try to make it your thing.

Am I making sense?  Do you know what I’m saying?  (Am I the only one who dislikes being asked that?)  YouknowwhatImean?  Yeah, Iknowwhatyoumean.  (expressed in my best yodel)

yodel 2

Be reasonable.  You have my full permission to be very eager to make positive changes for your health and for the health of your family!  I highly encourage it.  But be real and be wise.  Changes in our lives need to be God inspired, not self inspired.  The quickest way to feel defeated is to forget the Source of our strength, and the Purpose behind our choices.  Success is determined not by all we accomplish in a day, but by the peace we experience through choosing God’s best for our lives.

I’m hitting the restart button because I need it – mind, body, and soul.  I look forward to learning what God plans to teach you and me during this season.

I like clean floorboards, but I like peace and joy more.  I like healthy food in my freezer, but I like listening to God more.  I like making handcrafted recycled gifts, but no I don’t, who am I even kidding, youknowwhatImean?

So what I’m trying to say is, do you really need to sign up for yodeling classes?  Or be a part of another program?  Or set 14 new goals for yourself?  Or strive to be what you think everyone else thinks you should be?  I haven’t scrubbed my floorboards since #*&$hc&s#*  <—- dropped call static

(Can you hear me now?)

Make goals based on what God is calling you to be.  Improve in areas that bless your family.  Hit that restart button in an effort to glorify God.  Won’t it be lovely to see what He works out in you through your open heart?

yodel 3

She yodels and she dresses her children in homemade matching outfits. 
As if that isn’t enough, they flit, they float, and bid us all adieu in perfect four part harmony.

Unless God has clearly called you to be a yodeler, then by all means, I don’t know how to even finish that sentence.  Just join me in simplicity, will you?  Join me in making prayerful decisions about God’s purpose for you.  Join me in hitting the restart button that offers something better for our families in the form of peace and joy.

All the rest – the healthy eating, the exercise, the organization, and the clean house – it will all fall into place.

I so totally love this platform.  I love that so many of you hang out with me here each day.  Thank you, my dear readers, for being such an inspiration to me and to all the others here.  Here’s to a fantastic month of prayerfully hitting the restart button together!

P.S. If any of you can actually yodel, I have to know.

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Back-to-School Lunch Box Cards ~ New Free Printable

In celebration of all the back-to-school fun this time of year, we made another set of Lunch Box Cards for you to download and enjoy.  Print these, cut them apart, add your own personal message, then place them in your child’s lunch box.  Home school?  Place these cards under a lunch plate or inside one of the books your child is currently reading for a fun surprise. :)

Free Download - Lunch Box Cards

Download Free Printable Back-To-School Lunch Box Cards

Here are two more free sets of fun Lunch Box printable cards to grab.

Hey, did you sign up yet for the wonderful Healthy Living Refer-a-Friend program?  You don’t want to miss this opportunity to get a free Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle!  Get all the details here.

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Think About Such Things

How easy it is to read scripture, love it, be fed by it, get a happy feeling from it, find God right there in it…then close the Book, walk away, and forget to live by the Truth we just read.

Don’t kick yourself over it.  We’re never going to “arrive.”  We’re human.  We are fighting an enemy who wants nothing more than to see us struggle.  He knows enough about us to know our weak points, and that’s exactly where he fires his arrows.

That’s why we eagerly read this read this…

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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

Great scripture, right?  It’s one of my favorites.  Indeed, we can read it, love it, be fed by it, get a happy feeling from it, find God right there in it, and commit to focus here.  But before we know it, we’re living like this:

Whatever is bothering you, whatever you’re worried about, whatever you have no control over, whatever makes you angry, whatever hurt your feelings, whatever made you sad, whatever may or may not happen, whatever is in the past that you can’t change…think about such things.  Whatever you’ve seen and tried that doesn’t work, keep doing it and remain in that rut of despair.  And overwhelming hopelessness will hold you in bondage.

Been there?  Me too.  It’s painful, pointless, and far too easy to remain in that ugly circle of anxious thoughts that serve only to keep us from peaceful rest in Christ.

It really is possible to re-train our thought life so that we drop-kick the negativity and worry.  We definitely don’t want to stay in this camp, right?  It is not fun here.  It’s cold, muddy, and it rains all the time.  There’s no joy in the prison of fear.  Bleh.  Get me out from under this dark cloud of self pity and bitterness.

And Jesus says, “Yes!  I’d be happy to.  In fact, I already did.  I’m right there with you, everywhere you go.  Turn your focus to Me.  I am love.  I am peace.  I am joy.”

Because of the strength we gain when we take our weaknesses to the cross, we’ve got this!  It takes the power of prayer.  We have to intentionally stop the negative, pointless thoughts that want to take over our minds, take them captive, and make them obedient to Christ.  (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Because of Jesus, we are living in victory!  Remembering this truth sets our hearts free to focus on all that is true, noble, right, lovely, pure, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

Think About Such Things

Want a daily reminder of these truths from scripture?
Download and print this if you like:  Think About Such Things

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The “Eating Healthy” and “Save Money” Balancing Act

We all want to be healthy.  We all want to live frugally.  We all want the best for our families.  We all want food to taste good.  We all want great deals on groceries.  We all want delicious food, special treats, our favorite snacks…and if they could be free, cheap, come with a coupon, or be buy-one-get-one free – that would be fantastic.

Yeah, pretty much, we want it all.  Is that too much to ask?

Balancing Eating Healthy With Saving Money

Is it just me, or is it tricky sometimes to balance saving money with healthy eating?  Especially as our boys get older, I can not believe how much it costs to feed us well.  I believe it would also cost a lot to feed us poorly, simply because we eat so stinkin’ much food at our house all the time, every day, all the time.  We can not believe the lie that eating well is too expensive.  Eating junk is expensive too.  I’ve done the math.

I don’t have any wonderful new tips to share today as we work to keep our real food grocery budgets low.  I don’t have any great online grocery deals to share.  Instead, I just want to encourage keeping a healthy perspective when it comes to balancing saving money with eating healthy.

There really is great, real food out there that is not expensive.  It’s amazing all the wonderful combinations of real food ingredients we can creatively put together to feed our families while staying under budget.  We do not need to become discouraged, caving in to buy margarine because it’s cheaper than butter, or buying a cheese substitute because it’s cheaper than real cheese.  We do not need to skip the fruits and vegetables because we are afraid of the price tag.  They are not more expensive per ounce than a box of empty-calorie crackers.  I’ve done the math.

God is going to continue to provide for you and your family.  I believe the food on your table is as delicious as your attitude dictates it to be.  The health benefits of eating the best you can within your means, while trusting God?  Priceless.

Tired of the same old cheap real food meals of beans, rice, bananas, and carrots?  Ask God to give you more creative ideas, to provide you with what you need, and to give you a heart of thanksgiving.  I can almost guarantee that our little Gladis, over in Honduras, has very little variety in her diet, yet all of what she eats is real food and wholesome.  She and her family are simply thankful to have food, and they do the best they can.  Praise God for his provision!

Remembering her when I look into my refrigerator and pantry keeps me in check.  Gladis gives me perspective and offers me a chance to appreciate anew the abundance we have.  From thousands of miles away, she shuts my complaining mouth and calms my heart of discontent when I feel like whining about the price of strawberries.  How blessed we are to have access to the luxury of strawberries.

I pray we find balance as we seek to eat healthy while saving money.  I pray we look at what we have through the eyes of gratitude.

Let’s all continue to feed our families the best we can, while enjoying the blessing of real food – whatever it might look like on our individual tables.

Hoping to get your budget on track as you work to balance healthy eating with saving money?
Be sure to check out BudgetFocus as a wonderful resource!

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You Can Stop Feeling Like a Failure Now

If you woke up to a stack of crusty dishes piled up in the sink, you are not a failure.

If you forgot to put the laundry in the dryer and the clothes all got sour in the washer, you are not a failure.

If your kids threw a fit at the store, refusing to obey you, you are not a failure.

If you said something stupid, hurt someone’s feelings, forgot an important commitment, burned dinner, broke a special plate, spilled an entire bottle of something expensive, lost your phone, or overslept, you are not a failure.  You are normal though, so hi!  Welcome to the club.

It’s too easy for us to look at what we did or did not do, how our kids did or did not act, and what did or did not happen - letting each act and experience define our success or failure.

Why is this?  Is it possible that somehow, even though we all know it isn’t true, we all think that we (and everyone around us) should be perfect?  Even if we may not consider ourselves to be perfectionists, deep down, we still want life to be perfect.  We don’t want anything to go wrong, to annoy us, or to be inconvenient.  We want our spouse, our kids, our friends, our homes, our jobs, our health, and every single person we deal with to be perfect.  When they aren’t – yes that’s when, not if – when they aren’t, we feel as if we’ve failed or as if other people have failed us.

Stop it.

Stop Feeling Like a Failure

The truth is, we will never, ever in this fallen world achieve or experience anything close to perfection.  There is much good in the world, because God is everywhere around us, showing us His goodness.  But there’s also a lot of yuck in the world because Satan wants to win our hearts.  He enjoys watching our discouragement and bitterness.  He loves it when he can take our focus off God and turn us inward, making us focus on our supposed failures.  Ah yes, if Satan can keep our minds thinking selfishly, he wins.  That’s his goal.

But guess what?  This desire for perfection we all feel so strongly?  That is God given.  God wants us to seek to find that which is perfect.  Why?  Why would He give us that desire when clearly there is no way we can achieve perfection on this earth?  He gives us this desire because He is perfection and He wants us to seek Him.  Jesus.  Jesus is perfection.  That’s really what we should be looking for.

Keep lovingly taking care of your family and home.  Keep yearning to be more Christ-like.  But let go of the guilt that comes through your lack of perfection and supposed failure.  Focus on Jesus, the One who fulfills that need for perfection we all long for.

Crusty dishes in the sink?  Yep, there they are.  Gonna be late to an appointment?  Sometimes, sure enough.  People getting in your way and causing you trouble?  Well, of course.

This earth is only temporary.  This isn’t it, people.  Perfection?  It’s coming!  I can’t wait.

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Here Today, Gone Tomorrow.

Remember all the lovely pictures of our garden that I took on Monday and shared for Gratituesday?  Those pictures are all we have left of our garden.

garden145

Here’s what our spinach and lettuce looked like on Monday.

hail garden 1

Here’s what our spinach and lettuce looked like the very next day.

Tuesday night (yes, the very Gratituesday I had shared those happy garden pictures), a huge hail storm hit our town.  It smashed our garden all to bits.  Seeing how this hail storm effected all of our garden areas, we sure hate to think what the farmers around here may have lost.

Can we replant?  Probably.  Will we?  Yes, it’s not too late to replant some of it.  Is this the end of the world for us?  No, but it is a huge disappointment.  It was a lot of work, many hours, and quite a few dollars worth of plants and seeds – down the drain.  I know this loss could have been a million times worse.  Our home is fine.  Our children are fine.  Nobody was hurt.  Still, waking up to a sad garden mess was disheartening.

hail garden 2
Most of the leaves on our pepper, okra, and tomato plants were broken off.

The moral of the story:  We can make plans, work toward a goal, and look forward to something – but the end result is never really up to us.  We just get to sit back and trust God.

We’re thankful that God knows what we need and that He will provide – even if it might look a little different this year.  We’ll be grateful for the handful of plants that seem to maybe be surviving.  We’ll get back out there and put more seeds and plants into the ground.  Who knows but that “Garden…round 2″ may be better than ever?!

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Stop Thinking and Pray

Stop Thinking and Pray

70,000.  That’s how many thoughts we think every day, which breaks down to 1.2 thoughts per second.

Yoo-hoo, dear wonderful person who did the research so as to provide us with this thought provoking information: What I’d like to know is, how many of these thoughts of mine are rational, logical, emotional, or have something to do with cream cheese?  Does this statistic count the thoughts I think in my subconscious while I’m sleeping?  Or in fact do I cram my 70K thoughts into my awake hours, which ultimately means that all the thoughts I think are running into each other, tackling, punching, vying for attention, thus resulting in a big jumbled pile-up inside my head?

I’d like to believe my thinker works in overdrive because I am an efficient multi-tasker.  Yes.  This is a gift I have, which in effect allows me to plan dinner, read to my kids, make a mental list of phone calls I need to make, and question whose feet are the culprit of my nostril discomfort - all at the same time.  Unfortunately, it is also the thinker that allows me to create scenarios, envision disasters, replay conversations, invent situations, and ultimately freak out inside about what did, could, should, didn’t, would have, and might just happen.  It is this thinker that makes me believe that I’m completely on my own and able to solve all the world’s problems, prevent all physical and spiritual calamities for my children, and figure out how to appropriately respond to all conversations and encounters.

This kind of thinking makes me crazy.

So what to do?  We can’t stop thinking. (because then we’d be dead.  okay then.)  Are those of us who tend to “over-think” situations, worry, fret, and constantly analyze just destined to have a lot of frustration for the rest of our lives?

Jesus says, no way.  Just like any sin and struggle, God gives us a simple way out of the crazy.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ2 Corinthians 10:5

Take Every Thought Captive

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We control our thoughts.  They do not control us.  If we allow thoughts that are anxious, frustrated, confusing, angry, controlling, or ungodly in any other way – we need to take them captive and intentionally refocus them to make them obey Christ.

This takes courage, intention, and a heart open to surrender.  Christ wants to overtake our thoughts, to fill our minds with his goodness, and to rule our actions.  He can’t do that when we ignore Him.  He can’t talk to us if we aren’t listening.  He can’t fill us with His peace and joy when we refuse to let go of swirling, corrupted thoughts.

Take your thoughts captive.  Make them obey Christ.  Stop thinking about and trying to figure out all the stuffJust stop.  Stop thinking and pray.  Before every decision.  Every situation.  Every step forward.

Be amazed at how God offers a solution to every problem you face and how He replaces your anxiety with peace.

Stop thinking and pray.  It works!  But did we really expect anything less?

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Don’t Worry. Just Love People.

In the big scheme of life, Matt’s foot injury this week is not such a big deal.  It hurts quite a bit, it is causing some inconvenience, and is preventing him from getting his work done.  But we’ve got a friend undergoing major life-threatening surgery for cancer today, another who is getting ready to bury his dad, and many other friends who are struggling with hardships much more difficult than we are facing.

And yet.  This week has been exhausting.  I found myself quite weary by this afternoon, after several days of trying to juggle all my work and some of Matt’s too.  He’s starting to get around a little bit (on crutches), but it’s slow going.  I finally gave way to some tears this morning.  I’m fine, really.  I’m just tired.  :)

At just the right time early this afternoon, there was a knock at the door.  There stood my friend Rose, dressed in a cheery yellow shirt, a pecan pie in her hands.  I thought I would melt into a puddle.  Here’s what she said to me,

“I heard Matt got hurt.  I’m so sorry!  I wanted to do something, then questioned how I could possibly cook something for you, the one who cooks great food all the time.  Then I told myself, ‘well that’s just stupid.’  So I baked you a pie.”  Then she gave me an “I love you with the love of the Lord” sister-in-Christ hug.  Oh, it was just what I needed at that moment.

roses pie 1 (1)

Friends, I don’t care if she would have brought me a frozen pizza or a bag of nuggets from McDonalds.  I don’t care if she would have thrown me a bag of Cheetos out the window of her car.  I don’t care if she would have shoved a package of Oreos into my hands.  I don’t care if she showed up with nothing in her arms but a hug for me.  Her thoughtfulness and care were perfectly timed.  She followed the Spirit’s leading, and she loved me.  That’s all that matters.

I kid you not when I say that the entire pie was gone in less than 30 minutes.  Malachi declared it to be the “best pie he’d ever eaten.”  Mmhmm, it was super good.

roses pie 1 (2)

If you hear God calling you to serve, don’t question it.  Don’t hesitate, feel intimidated, or worry that what you have to offer won’t be good enough.  If God calls you, there’s a reason.  Listen and obey.  Your best is always just right.

So stop worrying.  When you choose to love people, you can’t go wrong.

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