Just Because I Can, Doesn’t Mean I Always Do

I can make mozzarella cheese. I can make Gatorade. I can make bread, pie, bagels, and pizza.

Homemade Gatorade

I share all of these ideas and recipes with people here. It’s so much fun! I talk about ways to save time and ways to save money. I’ve figured out ways to put nutritious meals on the table in less than 20 minutes, letting people know that none of us ever has to rely on take-out.

But just because I know these things, teach these things, and have experienced so much good because of all these things doesn’t mean I always do all these things.

Does this mean I’m a hypocrite? No. This means I’m human.

How about you? Human much?

I bet you know a lot of great tricks for saving money and time. But if you’re like me, sometimes there simply isn’t time to execute the time saving strategies (does this even make sense?). Sometimes the extra few dollars we need to pay for convenience is worth it so that we avoid stress and overthinking.

Check out what I did a few weeks before Christmas:

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I bought four packages of bagels (without reading the ingredient labels, if you can possibly imagine). I bought four bags of different varieties of granola. I bought a box of instant oatmeal pouches. I put them all in a big basket in the kitchen and told my kids, “This is breakfast for the next few days. Make eggs if you want. Always eat fruit. Beyond this, I won’t be making anything for breakfast because I have too much to do before we leave for California and I’m trying very hard not to be a crazy mom.”

I felt no guilt over the extra expense and the extra sugar and white flour. (Okay fine, I did cringe just a little bit, but only for half a second until I remembered my purpose.)

Nothing is worth anxiety and stress – not even the occasional ingredient label I can’t pronounce. Not even the extra few bucks I could have saved making it all myself.

Do I know how to make bagels? Granola? Instant oatmeal packets? Yes, yes, and yes. It’s fantastic to have such great money-saving recipes in my hip pocket. It’s wonderful knowing I’ve done all I can to put the best of the best on the table for my family.

But it’s more important to be able to love my family with a peaceful heart. It’s crucial for my mental and spiritual health that I spend as much time as possible each morning in prayer and reading the Word. And just before Christmas, the priority of enjoying the season with my family meant much more to me than flipping whole wheat pancakes and serving them with homemade blueberry syrup.

Just because I can, doesn’t mean I always do. Just because it sometimes works, doesn’t mean it always works. Just because I could, doesn’t mean I should. Just because change is hard, doesn’t mean change is bad. Just because I’m doing it now, doesn’t mean I always will.

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Our family is home now after over 57 hours on the road and two weeks away from home. Things are starting to settle back down (sort of, if they ever actually do). I don’t plan to make bagels anytime soon. But I bet I’ll find time to make a batch or two of granola.

No matter what, I’ll seek to make the most important things in life the highest priority, remembering that just because I can do something, doesn’t mean I always should.

How about you? What are some things you (should) give up during times of additional stress and extra full schedules?

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Gratituesday: My BFF Jen Hatmaker

Did you know? Jen Hatmaker is my BFF. So what if we’ve never actually met?

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This message brought to you by a refreshed and relaxed me who just returned home from…wait for it…a girl weekend.

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I know. A little get-away like this doesn’t seem like much. But remember who I live with. I love all of my many male people so, so much. But this weekend I got to go to where there were all women, all the time. For 26 hours.

Here’s part my private Facebook thread conversation with friends before leaving Friday:

Tonya: What are you guys wearing tonight/tomorrow?

Emily: Jeans, tennis shoes…

Me: Capris and comfy flip flops. Debating on a bra. #girlweekend

Of course I was serious. So off we went to the Women of Faith conference. (Fully clothed, with all appropriate underthings in place.) The closer we got, the more excited we got.

Now I’ve got to tell you something before going any farther. I am not one to be star struck. Our family has been to Newsboys concerts in which Michael Tate was close enough that we could reach out and stroke his hair (which we did not do). All my guys were like, “Dude, that is Michael Tate!!” and I’m all chill with, “Now which one is he again?” We’ve been to a Toby Mac concert where we were sitting so close that the sweat from his brow could have sprayed our cheeks. We rocked out with Lecrae and loved it. But hey. These are just regular (very famous) people. No need to get all silly about it.

But…Jen Hatmaker

All that went out the window though, because this weekend, here’s what I discovered. Sometimes you just need to get silly. Need I remind you of the lack of male people in the arena this weekend? Not to mention my complete lack of any responsibility or need for thinking, answering questions, or any other such mothering or wifing on my agenda for 26 hours. This brought out my silly. I’m not even ashamed about how totally age 12 I was acting half the time. For real – laughter is so good for the soul, as is quality time with girl people who speak my language.

So guess what? My favorite author and best friend, Jen Hatmaker, was going to be speaking at the conference. If you do not read every word that she writes, I encourage you to change that immediately. I adore her writing style, but mostly her heart for Jesus and people. I’d never heard her speak before (which is so odd seeing as we are best friends and all.) While I was looking forward to many things about the weekend, I was really looking forward to seeing and hearing Jen. (I dropped the last name here because we are on a first name basis, obviously.)

Here’s where I started to get silly. I mean, I already was silly, because #girlweekend. But as my friends and I were talking more and the conference was about to start, our hashtag turned from #girlweekend into #mybestfriendjenhatmaker (because my friends claim her too).

When we first saw her come out to be introduced with the rest of the speakers, I got so excited I actually jumped up and down and pointed (see age 12 behavior admission above). This is when I knew, whoa, I cannot even believe how excited I am that she is here. I now want to turn into a weirdy weirdo about this. I just love her so much.

At this point, since she was so closely in front of me, I decided I’d best try to get a picture. It was either that or holler her name, jump over eight people, and grab her into a big bear hug so we could start catching up on the past 40-whatever years we’ve missed out on together. I totally could have done it (like a weirdy weirdo), but I settled for a picture. (You’re welcome, Jen.)

Allow me to now present to you, the Jen Is About To Be Introduced and I’m Seeing Her For the First Time Scrapbook. What? The only reason I took so many shots was because I hoped to get at least one good one (which I did not). It’s okay though. I don’t need no stinking picture. To be star struck is sooo silly.

Here is #mybestfriendjenhatmaker standing beside another conference speaker when she first came out from back stage and stood eight people in front of me:

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Here’s another of her smiling and talking to that same other conference speaker. Told you I didn’t get any good pictures. Being a groupie is not my gift.

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Here’s another in which she continues to talk expressively with her hands. Isn’t that so endearing? Yes. It is very endearing.

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Jen, pointing to the left.

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Jen linking arms with other speakers while the lights went down.

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Jen sitting in the chair farthest left by the stage where she would later impart wisdom and humor and blessing.

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The evening continued with worship, fun, and speakers. And also #mybestfriendjenhatmaker was there.

By the end of Friday night, I was at a high point of silly and decided to just go with it because it was #girlweekend and I was having so much fun. This is why, as my friends and I were leaving the conference arena and we walked by the very chair where #mybestfriendjenhatmaker had been sitting, I was all, “Ooh, there’s her chair, I’m going to touch it!” One thing led to another and well, I have no idea how I ended up sitting there, but would you just look at that?

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There’s me. In the very chair #mybestfriendjenhatmaker had been sitting on.

Well anyway. I had a super fun weekend. It was a blessing to see #mybestfriendjenhatmaker and hear her heart on stage. If you haven’t already, go right away and read her new book, For the Love.

Now I am back home and no longer acting like I’m 12, nor am I speaking girl language because of all of the obvious male household mothering and wifing reasons. (Spell check does not like the word wifing. I think it is a brilliant word, so you just need to get over it, spell check. What makes you think you are the spelling authority? My brilliant words trump your red squiggles of dismay.)

While I found the Women of Faith conference to be less meaty overall compared to last year, I still feel filled up because I had so much stinkin’ fun. I have not let my guard down and laughed so hard in months.

Also, I really recognized the value of enjoying friendships this weekend. While I’d love to have a sit down with #mybffjenhatmaker sometime because I appreciate her Spirit-filled life and work – lemme just tell you how blessed I am with the women right here in my life, right here on my porch, right here in this very place.

I am loved by many. I have many to love. Life is fun and full and rich.

May we live life entirely. May we see people through the eyes of Jesus. May we love and be loved, bless and be blessed.

And every few months, may we all have the chance to act the part of a silly 12 year old, laughing for hours until we almost pee (because you are – in real life – much older than 12 and your bladder does not agree with your choice to revert to that time of life).

Feeling Weary?

Ugh, the weariness.  Even in the midst of good times, weariness can set in – in parenting, in marriage, in ministries, in the daily grind.

Today I tip my hat to you, in gratitude for all you do to keep life moving for those you love.  Thank you for packing lunches, changing diapers, rinsing dishes, tossing a salad, or paying the bills.  Thank you for sweeping the porch, writing a note, disciplining the child, wiping the snot, or driving to the appointment.  Thank you for countless hours of work you do – in all its forms – for the love of your family.

Your work is not in vain.  You serve a great purpose as you love those around you.  Be encouraged!  Be blessed!

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I posted this several months ago, but seeing as it is one of my favorite verses, I decided to pull it up again to share with you.  Know someone who is weary right now?  Pass this on to them for encouragement.  I love how scripture speaks and offers true peace for us all.

Download Galatians 6:9 in Blue and Black here.

Download Galatians 6:9 in Gray and Black here.

You Will Never Please Everyone (And That’s Perfectly Perfect)

Some readers request that I share more recipes.  Some suggest that I share too many recipes.  Some don’t like that I post spiritual content.  Some wish I would post more spiritual content.  Some roll their eyes at the deals I share.  Some cheer and do flips for the deals I share. I always listen to what my readers have to say because I love offering content that will bless you in your homemaking efforts.  I also know that what one person really needs or desires isn’t necessarily what the next person needs or wants.  So it is with pretty much all of life, right?

You Will Never  Please Everyone
It happens around my dinner table every single live long day.  Someone is bound to not like what I served while others are gladly taking thirds.  It happens during a every Sunday worship service.  Some love the song selection and others find them to be too slow or too fast for their liking.  Some find the sermon to be super meaningful and others find it to be irrelevant.  I could think of other examples but some might prefer that I get on with my point.

Here’s the truth that we need to learn down to our very core:

1.  You can’t please ’em all

2.  You can’t be pleased by all

I’m not sure which is more important to know and which is the hardest to remember.  Both involve the need to surrender self.  It’s hard and it hurts but this is what I’m beginning to understand:  Trying to please all and expecting others to always rise to my occasion is harder and hurts worse than choosing to surrender self.  Selfish living is completely empty – not to mention absolutely exhausting. Trying to constantly please others leaves me feeling defeated and discouraged.  Thinking others must always please me leaves me frustrated and let down.  No thank you, no thank you, no thank you.  I surrender, Jesus.  What do you have for me that is better? What about this?  What if we understood these two simple truths:

1.  God is the only One we should seek to please.

2.  God is the only One who will sufficiently meet all of our needs.

I think that pretty much covers it.

When I seek to please God, letting go of others’ (real or imagined) expectations of me, I will likely still be pleasing others.  I won’t please them all, but God never asked me to and for real – if I was pleasing everyone why in the world would people ever recognize their need to seek Jesus?  Okay then.

When I recognize that God is the One who meets my needs, suddenly that which is petty becomes irrelevant and that which matters turns into a Christ-centered passion.  That’s how it works when one is listening to and letting the Holy Spirit work. So, my friend, remember this:  You will never please everyone.  Also, people will sometimes frustrate you, especially when they do things differently than you would do them.  This is life.

Instead of wallowing, I suggest we use our energy to seek Jesus and live as He calls each of us.  Doesn’t that just sound refreshing? If this is something you struggle with like I do, might I suggest that you read (your whole Bible and also) read Hebrews 12?  Being disciplined hurts, but it makes us more holy.  Yes, holiness!  Bring it.

 

Free Scripture Encouragement Cards for Heavenly Homemaker’s Subscribers!

If you are a subscriber, you should have received the link to these free downloadable scripture encouragement cards in your inbox three days ago.  If not, let me know and I’ll send you the file.

Not a subscriber?  It’s free and it’s fun because not only do my posts come to your inbox each day, occasionally you get an exclusive freebie like this one.  :)  Subscribe here and you, too, will be able to download these pretty encouragement cards.  Once you confirm your subscription, you’ll be redirected to a page with the download links.

Free Scripture Encouragement Cards

These are some of my favorite Truths from scripture!  Hope you enjoy these as a blessing to you and as a way to bless others!

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.

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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

Hit the Re-Start Button – Join Us This September

It’s been a great summer! For many of us, there has been downtime, traveling, fun in the sun, and lots of crazy good times.  Likely there’s been some difficulty, frustration, and troubled days too.  Perhaps there have also been a few more than normal ice cream cones and trips through the fast food lane. No worries.  We’re not perfect, nor are we health-nut-Nazis.

But now that Fall is upon us, who’s ready to settle into a nice routine? Who’s ready to get some healthy food prepared ahead of time, get the house more organized and manageable, fine-tune the budget, start exercising regularly, get the natural medicine cabinet stocked for winter – any or all of the above?!

I always feel this way when September hits. I super-love the flexibility of summer. But I’m ready for routine, I’m ready to find more organization in my days, and I’m ready to breathe in a fresh breath of all that this season offers.

Who is with me? Let’s hit the Restart button!

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Through the entire month of September, we’ll be hitting the restart button together around here. We’ll have new recipes, freebies, sales, rockin’ giveaways, tips and ideas, and encouragement. Hey, I’m doing this for me as much as I’m doing it for you. Actually, technically, you’re doing this for me. Sharing these ideas refreshes me – so thanks for the kick.  Bam.  Smack that Restart Button! Here we go.

First off – let’s start with a giveaway. All the books, eBooks, and eCourses in my shop are geared toward making your real food journey easier. They’ll help you hit the restart button – so how about we give some away? Leave a comment on this post sharing what you’re most excited about this fall as you hit the restart button. Wednesday, September 3 I’ll draw 5 random winners who will each win a $10 gift certificate that can be used on any downloadable product or eCourse we carry. Let your comments begin:

What are you most excited about this Fall as you hit the Restart Button?

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 Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

Take Every Thought Captive

Want to print this? Click here to download.

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 stuff. Just 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?

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.

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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.

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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.