Photo By Pixabay
Photo By Pixabay

 

Wrapping It Up  

March 

March has been a busy month and honestly, I almost forgot to do my wrap up post!  I was so excited that I found the time to write a post last night and was working on getting time to work on another upcoming post, that it almost slipped my mind that my monthly wrap-up was due!  I haven't written much, I know, but I do want to touch base with you all and ask how the rest of you faired this month?

My Writing World

Well, for those of you that follow the blog, you know the blogging part of my writing world isn't all that much these days.  I've kept up with my Sunday posts but that's almost all I've done.  My manuscripts have suffered with even less time.  I didn't even send anything in for critiques this month, but am currently working on something for April. I didn't get my two days away last month for writing (I used them for some spiritual reflection instead) but am in the middle of that two day get away for March right now.  So that's why I had time to do the extra post on food (see below)the other day, the one on reading aloud to your child and am able to write this one now.

My Book World

Here I've kept busy!  In the area of fiction, I finished up A Prayer For Owen Meany.  I'm not sure how I feel about the book.  I didn't love it but I didn't hate it all either.  It was a good read and certainly different from my regular genre which was a nice change of pace.  ...continue reading "March Wrap Up"

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s295922263988903417_p44_i1_w600"If you have sinned, acknowledge the sin and repent.   God will forgive the sin and once again give you a new heart...and a new spirit (Ez. 36:26).  There is no other way:  Either do not sin, or repent."    ~ St. Theophan the Recluse from The Path to Salvation:  A Manual of Spiritual Transformation

I stumbled upon the above quote in one of my many searches for Orthodox Quotes to put on my Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/Orthodoxmom3 ).  I post a quote or prayer there every morning - well, almost every morning...

I am always attracted to anything that speaks on forgiveness.  Whether it be the human need to forgive others or God's forgiveness of us.  It's a constant struggle - forgiveness.  And I know that not to be true of just myself.  It's a common theme among Christians and non-Christians alike.  Everyone has someone who has wronged them and struggles with their feelings about that person and what he or she has done to offend them.

St. Theophan, in the quote above, addresses our own sinfulness and the need to repent for God to forgive us.  All we have to do is acknowledge the sin and repent of it.  Easier said than done sometimes.  We, humans, are stubborn.  We don't care to admit that we have been capable of hurting someone or doing something wrong in the site of God.  And yet, we are human.  How do any of us live a day without sinning in some form or manner?  But God forgives.  That's so far out of the grasp of our understanding sometimes.  But, indeed, He does.

And we humans are called to do the same.  FORGIVE.

It matters not what the person has done, whether it was voluntary or involuntary.  Whether it was by word or by deed.  Whether it was in knowledge or of ignorance.  We are called to FORGIVE and to repent of our own sins and ask Him for FORGIVENESS.

 

Orthodox Prayer Before Communion

I believe, O Lord, and I confess that Thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Who camest into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first. I believe also that this is truly Thine own pure Body, and that this is truly Thine own precious Blood. Therefore I pray Thee: have mercy upon me and forgive my transgressions both voluntary and involuntary, of word and of deed, of knowledge and of ignorance. And make me worthy to partake without condemnation of Thy most pure Mysteries, for the remission of my sins, and unto life everlasting. Amen.

Of Thy Mystical Supper, O Son of God, accept me today as a communicant; for I will not speak of Thy Mystery to Thine enemies, neither like Judas will I give Thee a kiss; but like the thief will I confess Thee: Remember me, O Lord in Thy Kingdom.

May the communion of Thy Holy Mysteries be neither to my judgment, nor to my condemnation, O Lord, but to the healing of soul and body. Amen.

 

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This is yet again, another post on making goals.  But as it involves those short-term goals, it should be the last of it's kind for at least several weeks if not several months.

After reading a chapter from the Stress and Relaxation Workbook last fall, I set out with a list of my ten top priorities in life:     fragonard-91063_1280

  1. God
  2. My Marriage
  3. My Children
  4. Health & Safety
  5. Homeschooling
  6. Writing
  7. Friends & Family
  8. Comfortable, nice clean home
  9. Financial Security
  10. Fun & Relaxation

The list is not necessarily in order- with the exception of #1 and #2- which are ALWAYS #1 and #2.                    marriage-478318_1280

With these priorities in mind, I developed a list of long-term, medium-term, and short-term goals.  While I've always been one to make a list of goals here and there, I've never thought about making sure they coincided with my top priorities or putting them in as clear of subcategories as long-term, medium term or short-term before.  So I started these lists last fall with this post.   It blew my Resolutions from 2014 out of the water because it was much more organized, concise and showed a definite correlation to all of my priorities and gave me an overall picture of how to go about accomplishing those BIG goals in little steps.

With the New Year approaching, I had a new sense of how to go about making those New Year's Resolutions.  My resolutions aren't really resolutions (a firm decision as to whether to do or not do something) but really GOALS.  They are the short-term goals (goals that can be accomplished within a few weeks up to one year) that will lead to the eventual ability to obtain those medium-term and then long-term goals.

So now- after a week or two of serious thought- here are my SHORT-TERM Goals of 2014- which of course can always be revised or updated as needed so long as they still coincide with that important list of priorities above:

1.   God  (Develop a union and closeness with God)

  • Set aside a minimum of 20 minutes for morning and mid morning or early afternoon prayer time (total)
  • Develop a morning prayer habit with family
  • Develop an evening prayer habit (set a copy of evening prayers inside current book I read at bedtime as a reminder!)
  • Develop a habit of saying Pre-Communion prayers with family on Saturday evenings.
  • Say the Jesus Prayer at various times throughout the day
  • Orthodox Reading - Read a book pertaining to Orthodoxy 1-2x a week other than devotion time
  • Attend Vespers services at least 1 time a month

2.  Marriage (Having a strong lasting relationship with my husband)

  • Establish a habit of a weekly date time (Every Monday and at least one extra activity every other week)
  • Read Love & Respect together and complete Workbook
  • Continue habit of reading together whenever time allows
  • Establish personal goals with my husband

3.  Children (For them to know I love them and to be a good Christian model to them)

  • Establish a habit of a weekly game night (quality, fun time)
  • Read with my oldest son at least 4x weekly
  • Read with my youngest at least 3 books daily in addition to our bedtime stories
  • Call my daughter at school weekly and text several times a week

4.  Health & Safety (REAL food and healthy environment)

  • Find Paleo websites/blogs with easy meal plans
  • Work on a new Monthly Menu Outline plan to make menu planning easier
  • Begin Freezing Meals so there is always at least 3 complete meals within the freezer ready to go!

5.  Homeschooling

  • Continue reading about and researching the Charlotte Mason method
  • Work on course descriptions for my son's transcript records
  • Work on developing a Home Ec course plan (we've decided to form our own)
  • Think over how to incorporate some Charlotte Mason methodology into my older son's coursework
  • Copy the Liturgy Book for my youngest son and highlight sections that he will now be expected to be at attention for and follow along

6.  Writing  (blogging and manuscripts)

  • Post  a minimum of 3 posts per week - with an eventual goal of 4-5.
  • Work on manuscripts at least 2x weekly, at least 3-4 hours (total), increasing in a few months.
  • Do writing exercises found in books and blogs on the craft
  • Read other blogs and comment on 3 per day

7.  Friends & Family

  • Make a list of friends and family I wish to maintain better contact with
  • Call (or text if they or I prefer) a minimum of 2 from the list each week (or have coffee if person is available to do so!)

8.   Comfortable, Clean Home

  • Use organization website to make plan of action to stay on task with minimum stress
  • Maintain morning and evening routine checklists
  • Declutter/Minimalize - read more on being a minimalist and make 1 new goal to work on every other week

9.  Financial Security

  • Create a system for organizing receipts to make my husband's job of maintaining checkbook and budget system easier
  • Add 'record receipts' to my To Do list at least 3 x week

10.  Fun and Relaxation

  • Game nights ( a repeat-  it's great to kill two birds with one stone! Unless of course, it's a real bird....that I wouldn't do)
  • Coffee Dates with Friends - I love to do this but for some reason it's hard for me to initiate....that introvert thing I guess...
  • Work on creating a list of small (short in duration) things to do that will put fun/relaxation into my days!

 

So there it is!  My current short -term goal list.  As you can see, some of them should be very easy to implement-  the goal there is to make it more of a HABIT while others may take many months or even the whole year to actually accomplish.  Either way, I will keep this list posted in my household binder where I'm sure to come upon it weekly to read over and remind myself what I'm to be working on and revise when and if necessary.  That can be to add more, take away any that are successfully obtained, or simply revise the number or frequency, etc.  If you want to see the long-term goals that got this started, go back to the original post last week.  The middle-term goals are here.

Do pray for me that I may stick with the plan and make progress, no matter how imperfectly it may occur!

Do you have any similar goals?

Is there anything in my list you  would like to see written about in a future post?

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

Photo by Pixabay
Photo by Pixabay

Back on October 6th, I published a post on time management and goal setting.  In determining those "New Year Resolutions" everyone's been talking about (including me), I've determined to go back to that goal list.

Back in October,  I had to come up with a list of my ultimate priorities.  They did not consist of the only things I find important in life but they are the most important. While the first 3 are in numerical order, the others could be interchanged. These are the things that I simply could not accept having to live without.  I reviewed that list in the last few days and determined it has not changed:

  1. God
  2. My marriage
  3. Mothering my children
  4. Health & Safety
  5. Homeschooling
  6. Writing
  7. Friends & Other Family (outside my husband and children)
  8.  Comfortable, nice clean home
  9. Financial Security
  10. Fun & Relaxation (Yes, some would be surprised this made the list as it's the one that is overlooked most often - but it really is a priority for me)

Once I determined what my priorities were (that part did not take long but did need great consideration as I think it's the most important step), I needed to develop short-term, medium-term and long-term goals.  I started with LONG TERM- because you need an ultimate goal.  The medium term and short-term goals are what you do to reach the LONG TERM goals- so those need set in place first.  So this morning, I looked over those long-term goals and made a few minor adjustments.  For the most part though, they have not changed since October.

LONG TERM GOALS:

  1. Develop a union and closeness with God - keeping Him ever-present in my mind and heart, allowing Him to control ALL - Choosing to always be on His side.  In Orthodox language - staying on the path of Theosis and climbing the ladder of divine ascent.
  2. Have a strong lasting loving relationship with my husband that will focus on LOVE and RESPECT and one that can serve as a model to others.
  3. To have my children always know - without a shadow of a doubt- that I love them, to be a Christian model to them and someone they can depend on for strength, guidance and yes, even friendship.
  4. To feed myself and my family, REAL food as provided by God and provide a safe healthy environment to maintain all of our health.
  5. To educate my children to the best of my ability throughout their elementary, middle and high school years and prepare them for life, not just academically but especially by way of heart and soul.
  6. To write and publish several children's books and have a blog of several thousand followers (blushing a little here....wondering if I sound vain??).
  7. To engage in pleasant activities and communicate well and often with friends and family and also help them in whatever ways I can.
  8. To maintain a comfortable, orderly, clean and , yes, stress-free environment in our cozy well-maintained home (finding this current cozy little house in the woods is a great start to this goal!).
  9. To live within our means  and not only have a security net but also be able to help others in need.
  10. To enjoy life and remember to have fun and RELAX!  (this is actually the hardest one for me---  but I think my Stress Reduction and path of imperfect progress I have myself on will help achieve this goal!  But I may need a LOT of encouragement here- so please feel free to comment on these posts and offer words of wisdom and encouragement and your own tales of imperfect progress!

 

So that's my LONG TERM Goal list.  Now I need to look over that Medium-Term and Short-Term goal list-  I'll take the rest of this week to look over it.  In short, I need to come up with a list of medium term goals or steps that I need to achieve to accomplish those long-term goals.  It's about making a plan.  I can't establish that close relationship with God if I don't take the steps up the ladder to get there!  So my medium term goals and short-term goals will obviously include prayer and devotion time and other things that I can do to make sure I keep focused on God each day and each moment of my life.

Goal Setting
Photo by Pixabay

Your Medium Term Goals are goals you can most likely achieve within the next 1-5 years while your short-term goals are the steps you'll be working on immediately and accomplish within the next few weeks up to one year. See my previous post on Goal Setting.

Remember- Resolutions don't need to be met 100%.  The idea of Resolutions is to have Goals- to establish a plan and make PROGRESS.   None of us are perfect.  We are human.  But we CAN MAKE PROGRESS!!

 

So what are your priorities?  Have you made a list a long-term goals based on those priorities recently?

 

 

 

 

4

So while I'm on my quest for imperfect progress, I'm still on my quest for stress management which really coincides well.  I know when I'm stressed, I become unglued more often.

The first chapter I completed in my book on Stress Management was titled Goal Setting and Time Management. I figured it would give the basic time management strategies one usually hears:

  • Make a daily to-do list
  • Block out media distractions
  • Get up earlier
  • Go to bed earlier
  • Be reasonable and don't over plan your day.

You know, basic stuff. The stuff everyone knows we should do but don't always do it.But the chapter really actually spent a lot of time on goal setting which is pretty important.  So I made some goals.

First, I had to come up with a list of my ultimate priorities.  They do not consist of the only things I find important in life but they are the most important. While the first 3 are in numerical order, the others could be interchanged. These are the things that I simply could not accept having to live without:

  1. God
  2. My marriage
  3. Mothering my children
  4. Health & Safety
  5. Homeschooling
  6. Writing
  7. Friends & Family
  8.  Comfortable, nice clean home
  9. Financial Security
  10. Fun & Relaxation (Yes, some would be surprised this made the list as it's the one that is overlooked most often - but it really is a priority for me)

Once I determined what my priorities were (that part did not take long), I needed to develop short-term, medium-term and long-term goals....starting with long-term.

LONG TERM GOALS:

  1. Develop a union and closeness with God - keeping Him ever-present in my mind and heart, allowing Him to control ALL - Choosing to always be on His side.  In Orthodox language - staying on the path of Theosis and climbing the ladder of divine ascent.
  2. Have a strong lasting loving relationship with my husband that will strengthen one another that can serve as a model to others.
  3. To have my children always know - without a shadow of a doubt- that I loved them and to be a Christian model to them and someone they can depend on for strength.
  4. To feed myself and my family, REAL food as provided by God and provide a safe healthy environment to maintain all of our health.
  5. To educate my children to the best of my ability throughout their elementary, middle and high school years and prepare them for life, especially by way of heart and soul.
  6. To write and publish several children's books and have a blog of several thousand followers (blushing a little here....wondering if I sound vain??).
  7. To engage in pleasant activities and communicate well and often with friends and family and also help them in whatever ways I can.
  8. To maintain an orderly clean and , yes, stress-free environment in our cozy well-maintained home (finding this current cozy little house in the woods is a great start to this goal!).
  9. To live within our means and not only have a security net but also be able to help others in need.
  10. To enjoy life and remember to have fun and RELAX!  (this is actually the hardest one for me---  but I think my Stress Reduction and path of imperfect progress I have myself on will help achieve this goal!  But I may need a LOT of encouragement here- so please feel free to comment on these posts and offer words of wisdom and encouragement and your own tales of imperfect progress!

From there, I did establish some 'medium term goals' that I hope to accomplish within the next 1-5 years as well as short-term goals that I hope to accomplish within the next few weeks up to one year.

Obviously for my first goal - forcing myself to get up at 5:30 each morning for my quiet devotional time and reading Unglued and working on my imperfect progress will help me to do that.  I must remember that my goal is not to be perfect and I must forgive myself when I fall.  That's the hardest part I think.  I have this deep inner voice that ridicules myself when I mess up.  It's actually NOT nearly as bad as it used to be... but I must focus more on remembering that God will forgive me - but I must forgive myself also.

I also set goals that were specific to the Unglued Participant's Guide to describe what I would like my 'new normal' to be:

1.  I do not yell or raise my voice when frustrated, angry or confused.

2.  I make it through my days without regretting how I've spoken to someone.

3.  I find ways to acknowledge what I'm feeling without doing either of the above and without stuffing those emotions down to boil over later.

Whew.... that's a lot of goal setting!  Now on with my day and hopefully make some progress!  Are you with me?

 

 

4

This is not representative of my religion.

I was sitting recently, amongst some friends who were talking about parenting, food, and other topics, when one casually said, “I just don’t get how some people make their food choices like a religion.” Some nodded along and the conversation drifted to other topics while I sat there… taking that in, wondering…. “Who and what did she mean by that?” She had followed up this statement with a quick add-on about time and other things, but I wondered if there was more behind her words? My paranoid self said (to me only of course), “Hey…are you talking about me?? Is that what you think?” While my defensive self (again, only to me) said, “Hey…do you know why I do what I do?? And by the way, Orthodoxy does mean more to me than my food…” So I’ve thought about this for a while. And I want to answer it….though I may be way off base by what this friend meant, but it’s something I wonder about. Are people judging me because what they see is this obsessed woman who spends an awful lot of her time in the kitchen, reading labels, and worrying about what her family will eat when they go away for the day, let alone for several days in an unfamiliar environment?

Food is not my religion. But it does play a really large part in my life as it is a (but not the only) top priority.

You see, without the food choices I make for our family, our family would be entirely different from what it is today. My cupboards would be overloaded with pharmaceutical drugs instead of organic nuts and other foods. I’d be lucky if I had enough stamina to make a pre-made laden with chemicals frozen dinner let alone make a well-balanced meal from scratch. My daughter would probably not be in college and may have had to spend time in a psychiatric unit by now.  I may not still be married. My son would probably be driving his high school teacher and principal crazy as we would probably not be homeschooling. And my youngest…well who knows, he may not even be here.

It is the food that some may think is my ‘religion’ that has saved us from what could only have otherwise been lives full of anxiety, depression, chaos, upheaval and nightmares of every sort. I will not go into the details here…I am not ready. You can certainly read  my earlier post that hints at the ordeals of our past life without Real Food and what we learned and how it changed us:

Our Food Story

In short, Real Food has brought us health. We no longer carry labels of mood orders not otherwise specified, bipolar-disorder, anxiety, depression, ADHD, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, irritable bowel syndrome, and the countless other labels added on and taken away here and there throughout several years of dysfunction.

That doesn’t mean we are perfect people. We still have stressful days, weeks, etc. but we can deal with them with clear heads and make rational decisions and think through the problems that arise and feel healthy while doing so. We can rise to the challenge of life without always feeling we will succumb to each one leading to great consequences. Occasionally we get colds and viruses too but they do occur much less frequently and we suffer by far less than we use to. And after doing the Whole30, I don’t even have the inclination to hide away with a bar of chocolate anymore! 🙂

This is closer...

But the food is not my religion. ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY  is. Worshipping God as taught by the Church as taught by the apostles…. That is my religion. But the very food that is one of my biggest priorities, right after God, my husband and children, the food that has saved my family from sure destruction comes from the Eternal, Unchanging, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient, all-good, all-righteous, all-sufficient God that I pray fervently to and worship with all my being. It is He that makes our health possible through His creation.

I only ask that you try to see there is a difference and not judge me because it may APPEAR to you that I take it more seriously than God Himself.  I don't.  I spend time in prayer as well as time in the kitchen.  And I also know that eating the food we do will not extend our life beyond what God intends.  But I do believe that God gives us choices.  We have a choice to eat the food He has provided - giving us all the nourishment we need - or the food products and chemicals man has tampered with - giving us disease and poor health.  While food is not my religion, I am choosing the side of God in my choices. That is a determination I have made for myself and my family and want to share.

I will not judge you  -  so please don't judge me.  (I judge the food industry…it’s true…but not you) I hope (and pray) that you find the truth about the food industry and that you find the time and ability to cook from scratch for the betterment of the health of your own family…but do I judge you? No.. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like. I know it’s not easy.   I will not judge you. But I WILL encourage you. I WILL share what I know when I think it might help. I WILL give pointers when I think it might be possible that you’ll listen. That’s not judging…it’s sharing… its me feeling awful that I might know something that could help you and others and  feeling HORRIBLY guilty if I kept it to myself. But it’s up to you to do something about it…up to you whether you want to look more deeply into what I share with you and here, on this blog. You are my friend…I will not judge… but I will try to educate…it’s what I feel led to do. But it’s not a religion. Okay?

Other Relevant Posts: (in case you haven't read these yet 🙂 )

The Truth About MSG

Children And A Restricted Diet

Epigenetics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

"Christians should know better than this; God doesn't judge one person against another, he doesn't grade on a curve. Yet we find it desperately hard to believe that we're really truly sinners, because we see people so much worse than us every day in the newspaper. In comparison to them, we're just so gosh-darn nice." ~ Frederica Mathewes-Green

I think this is true for all of us. Rather than humbly looking in the mirror and seeing ourselves as the sinners we truly are, we attempt to visually better ourselves by comparing ourselves to others around us rather than to our Holy God.  It's easier to look at the paper and read an article about a murderer and think, "Well I haven't done anything that bad" and thereby make ourselves less of a sinner.  We walk down the street and hear a group of not so pleasing to the eye men (you know, the ones with their undergarments sticking out, gold chains hanging, dangling earrings, and holding the liquor bottles) swearing up a storm and think, "Well, at least I don't act like that!" Even in our own homes - we judge a spouse by something they have or have not done and think..."Hmpf... I never did that to them."  Does all of this judging of others make us less of a sinner?  The fact that we haven't killed, sworn while holding a liquor bottle on a street corner, done a particular thing that our spouse has done to us, become a terrorist or we don't stay home from church every Sunday - does this make us less of a sinner than everyone else?

We must stop comparing ourselves to other humans.  We must stop judging them and begin to judge our own sins- leading us to true repentance.  Once we stop judging and decide it is God that we must compare ourselves to and be repentful for our sins, we can approach Him and acquire an illumined heart.  As Fredrica continues to write, "Once we really decide that it is God Himself we want to approach, repentance comes to feel like a clarifying, tough- minded friend."

I was reading a friend's blog post the other day.  It was about Frederica Mathewes-Green. Frederica Mathewes-Green is a popular Orthodox Christian writer.  She also writes for Beliefnet, Christianity Today, and NPR's All Things Considered among others. She describes herself as a  "women's libber" and "mother-earth hippie" turned pro-life activist and Orthodox Christian.  I have read and loved many of Frederica's books.  The one I quoted from, above, is titled The Illumined Heart; Capture The Vibrant Faith of Ancient Christians.  It's a small book - only 102 pocket-size pages....so if you are into short and easy to read books but full of deep meaning, this is the one to read! I find her books captivating and highly informative without being overwhelming to myself as a overtired mamma who just can't always absorb materials written by those (however amazing) high thinkers who frankly, just go right over my head sometimes! LOL

The following is a link to my friend's blog post. This post talks about Frederica Mathewes-Green and her current project. I hope you will take a moment to read the post and watch the video about the documentary that is being attempted. It would be a wonderful project if they are able to raise the funds in time! http://deepinthestax.blogspot.com/2014/01/frederica-life-and-work-of-frederica.html

Once there, click on the link to the documentary.  It should lead you here.

If you care to listen to a podcast on Ancient Faith Radio by Frederica, you can do that here.

Find your way to an illumined heart and enjoy your day 🙂

Random Thoughts On A Saturday:

  • Shouldn't all librarians know when the ALA awards have been announced and what the Caldecott winner is?  (shaking head)
  •  If you are a writer and don't already know it, you can find very valuable information and insight at Kristin Lamb's blog - check it out if you haven't already done so!
  • Erich Fromm wrote in The At of Loving that children have two needs: milk and honey (from their parents) - the milk meaning care to their physical needs and the honey being the sweetness of life and the things that make life enjoyable.
  • Hot chocolate is a necessity in life...really, it is 😉
  • I'm told I need to prioritize things in life....the things I want to do and figure out what can I let go of?  Let go??  How does one do that?  Sigh...  I just want balance.
  • Today's post is #150 !  🙂

2

"Carve out a space in your day for quiet, uninterrupted thinking.  Exercise and feed your creative self."  ~ Penny Raife Durant

Penny Raife Durant is a children's author.  She recognizes a need. Carving out time for quiet, uninterrupted thinking is sometimes nearly impossible...but so necessary.  I can tell when I haven't been doing enough of that or spending enough time with God.  Both of these things.... time for quiet and feeding your creative self and time with God are essential for the mind.

So how does one do it?  With all the hustle and bustle of not just the holidays but basic day to day life events and necessary tasks, how does one fit in that time for what's necessary for the soul and mind?

I'm not an expert at this....I am not always successful..but there are a few things I do in my attempt to acquire that time.

  1.   Get up early -   I hate to do it. I really like sleep.  My bed calls out my name and holds me tight.  But if I'm able to get up before the youngest, I'm able to get more of those morning tasks done and just might get my time in to do bible reading and write in my gratitude journal before the pitter patter of tiny feet hit the bare wood of the downstairs hall.
  2.   Get a babysitter -  I've started to do this once a week.  I take my son to a friend's home - she's a neighbor so it's not far and my son ADORES her....   It's twofold:  he gets time that he looks forward to and I cram in as much creative writing as I can get done in 3 hours time - It's the time I spend only on my manuscripts...no blogging, no checking email, nothing other than writing unless it's directly related to my actual writing.  I know not everyone can do this.  It's a gift I've allowed myself after much deliberation and have decided that I am a better mother (and obviously a writer) if I have at least that much time per week to feed my creative self.   This isn't daily, no, but three hours of time isn't something I can do daily and it helps the other days of limited time not feel so bad.
  3. Make a morning routine -  I learned years ago about making a morning routine from Flylady.  I do much better if I stick to my routine.  🙂  Having that list keeps me focused and helps me work more quickly.
  4. Limit Myself From Facebook and Other Distractions -  If I let myself take part in Facebook too early in the day, I'm distracted and lose sense of time.  I get pulled into it and keep wanting to check comments, etc.  If I force myself to leave it alone until I have all my tasks on my 'daily routine list', I get more done in a timely fashion and find out I can get a little extra time for me later in the day.
  5. Incorporate the time into your daily routine - If you actually write it down as part of your regular routine, you are more apt to do it.  Publishing my post for the day is actually on my routine list right after rebooting the laundry, writing in my gratitude journal and reading bible stories with my son.

These are a few pointers from me to you on how to find ways to fit in that personal time for your soul and creative self.  Maybe you have some ideas to share as well?  I'd love to hear them!!

Random Thoughts on a Saturday:

  • Whether you are a published author or an unpublished writer, treat your writing as a job.  It is important.  It does take time.  Give it the time it deserves.
  • Juggling that time with being a homeschool mom, cooking from scratch, being the mom of a toddler, giving time to your husband, kids and friends, finding time with God, sleeping, etc. is very HARD!
  • Throwing out your credit card accidentally with a paper towel while holding them with a gloved hand really can happen....but not such a good thing...though life goes on...
  • It certainly is easier to fall behind than get ahead.... true words spoken by a 15-year-old boy in this household
  • Stephen King has not lost his touch....  and in my opinion, is the only writer that can pull off such an amazing sequel to an incredibly amazing novel.  He is a talented author - whether you like his genre or not... he's amazing.

1

Christmas Day may be over but the season is not.  And the reason we celebrate the Holy Day is never gone.

Let us remember the reason of establishing the Feast of the Lord's Birth on December 25th:  In the 4th century, there were heresies being taught.  Followers of Arius were denying that Jesus was God made flesh. In accordance with this teaching, Christians could not celebrate his birth.  In order to fight this error, it was agreed in the Church that the commemoration of the Birth of Jesus, Our Lord, would be separated from the Feast of His Baptism ( Until the 4th century, this Feast was celebrated on January 6 along with the remembrance of Theophany - the Baptism of Our Lord - and was held on the 6th day of the year in relation to the "Sixth Day" when Adam was created because according to ancient tradition, Christ is the "Second Adam").  December 25th was chosen out of several suggestions made at the time as a date for this separate celebration in order to remove temptation from the Christians of that time. The Romans had a pagan festival on this day and it was usually spent in merrymaking and immorality.  Choosing December 25th as the day, therefore, assisted the Church to teach the rejection of pagan ideas and demonstrated that Christ had come to replace those lifeless and immoral teachings.  Most importantly, in choosing a date to separately celebrate the birth of Christ, the Church clearly confessed her faith that God had indeed taken flesh and chose to live here among men.

The sun sets on the night of Christmas Day but the celebration is not over.  There are 12 days of Christmas of course, as I discussed in my previous post on the Russian Orthodox Traditions of Christmas, leading up to Epiphany in which we celebrate the Birth of Our Lord and Savior with family and friends.  And there is the rest of the year to come in which we recall not only the Birth of our Lord, but His life on earth, His teachings, and, most importantly, His suffering, death and RESURRECTION!                  His birth leads to His RESURRECTION - which gives us eternal life.   wpid-IMG_20131210_153127_002.jpg

That can't be over in one day.

Continue the celebration.  Keep the LOVE of CHRIST in your heart..keep the magic in your heart - keep the spirit of wanting to give, wanting to smile, wanting to celebrate Christ alive in your soul not just on Christmas Day, but today, tomorrow and all the days of the rest of your life.  May God grant you many many many years to do so!

Giving to others will  not take away from what you have but will in fact add to your life. ~ Catherine Pulsifer  

Don't you just LOVE giving gifts??

I love to see the smiles. The joy.  The excitement!

Got Taylor Tickets??       YES!!!
Got Taylor Tickets??
YES!!!

Sometimes  NO WORDS are even better.  When the shock of the gift takes their words away....

Christmas Smiles
Christmas Smiles

I love to give gifts all year....

What's your favorite gift you have ever given?

Random Thoughts on a Saturday:

  • Happiness is a warm blanket.
  • Krazy Glue has the power to lift up ceramic tile..just so you know...in case you were wondering.
  • How long does Krazy Glue stick to fingers??  Hmmmm.... Guess I'll find out...
  • The greatest gift I've ever received were my children....direct from God.  Deep Gratitude.
  • Food processors don't work well if you don't put a blade in....just saying...in case anyone else is half asleep on a Saturday morning.
  • I will never understand how to find the perfect avocado.  The ones that seem rotten are sometimes the most beautiful inside... the ones that seem perfect outside look horrible inside...