When Waiting Sucks

Sometimes waiting just sucks.

We are in the middle of a lot of changes in our home. With my new job, our schedule has turned upside down…and it has been (at times) a rough adjustment for all of us. My husband has had to take on additional responsibilities while I work for a couple of hours in the afternoons when Eden is home from school. It certainly has not been easy.

In addition, we have been feeling/wading our way through another season of frustration in waiting for the next step. It seems to come in waves for us – periods of peace and trust in Gods timing and plan, and periods of frustration and feeling like we will never make it to step 2.

But the Word of God, my sweet brothers & sisters in Christ and worship music have all been a great blessing/comfort to me.

I posted this pic the other day on my instagram….it definitely shows me that our waiting period is for a purpose. “…waiting time is never wasted time.” MAN – God was pointing a finger right at me with that one!!!

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The She Reads Truth study in Nehemiah has had a profound impact on me. I think the book of Nehemiah is a preview of what is to come for my husband and I when we finally move to Arizona. It has blessed and encouraged me so much – and I am so thankful.

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And while I know in my head that everything will be alright – that God has a plan and is working it out as we speak. Sometimes waiting just plain old sucks – and I have to work through these seasons of frustration through Gods word and through prayer. I am reminded of a very important verse that gives me strength:

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I have to believe. God is good. Amen.

Blessings,

Staying On Task

I hope everyone had a great weekend! I chaperoned prom (at the high school I used to teach at) this weekend and had  a blast! Here are some photos….

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{After I had my makeup all done.}

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{All dolled up!}

The Struggle….

One of the things I have been struggling with is time management & staying on task. My productivity for the first few weeks of my new job was terrible. I felt overwhelmed and, at the end of a long day, often felt like I wasn’t getting much done, though I felt like I had run a marathon! (It doesn’t help that since having a child four years ago, my brain cells er, memory has slowly diminished!)

One of the things my new employer encourages us to do is to develop a strict daily schedule. While that sounded really great in theory, I found myself “flying by the seat of my pants” most days and was paying for it. This past Friday, I put my plan into action. And to my surprise, I felt more productive and accomplished, and was quite successful in my daily tasks!

What are some things that you can do to make your life more productive, whether you’re a working from home momma, working outside the home momma or just someone looking to make their days more productive?

I want to share some of my favorite apps, items, etc. that have assisted me in becoming more task-oriented and less-stressed in my daily life.

Creating a Daily Schedule (and sticking to it!)

I find that creating a simple daily schedule on excel has really helped to keep me on task. I break it down by the hour and record EVERYTHING I plan to do that day. While we all know life happens sometimes (and that may mean I don’t hit EVERYTHING on my list every day), at least I have a plan and that helps me stay focused on the goals for each day.

Work Schedule

{A photo of my work schedule I created with Excel, since I work from home.}

Utilizing Apps/Websites

I utilize a TON of apps and websites to help me in my daily life. Many of them help with my diminished memory, but some do assist me in organization as well.

  • Outlook Calendar – I use this to track appointments, meetings and events. You can simply add an event on the date & time you need it, and set multiple reminders that will beep at you. If you use an iPhone, it can sync and beep at you on the go, too!
  • MailBox – This is the latest and greatest for email organization. It allows you to load multiple email addresses, organize emails into lists to save, and also lets you determine varying times for you to answer emails! Basically, it allows you to keep a de-cluttered email inbox which can lead to lower stress (in my opinion!). 🙂
  • Reminders App – I use this pre-loaded app on the iPhone for grocery shopping. It lets me add/create multiple lists, and when I have added each grocery item to my cart, I can check it off of my list. Then it disappears, which lets me know I have the item in my cart. You can use this app for MANY tasks, but it is definitely a favorite of mine when shopping.
  • Online Timer – when working from home, I use a timer to let me know when it is time to move to the next task. 🙂 There are plenty of free online timers online or on your smartphones!

One app/website I want to try – RescueTime:I just found out about this website on twitter. Its goal is to help diminish online digital distractions. I am interested to see how it works!

What are some things that make your day more productive? Feel free to share in the comments below! 🙂

Blessings,

Recent Events

This week is going to be pretty busy for me at work. I was just given about 90 new students that I have to call, discuss things with and then activate into the course. Each call takes about 7-10 minutes, so….you do the math. 🙂

I am really enjoying it, however. The people I work with are amazing, supportive and uplifting. My students and parents have been gracious and friendly (so far). Every question I didn’t know the answer to, I was able to find out and get back to them within the day, keeping them happy.

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{Photo Credit: Caryn Recker}

As someone who hates being on the phone, I am not on the phone ALL THE TIME. And I know God is using this as a way to build up my communication skills. I feel this is necessary as I move into a role of church planting in the future. I have a difficult time communicating, especially with people I don’t know well or trust. I have felt an overwhelming sense of peace and contentment as I have moved forward into this new job. I know only God can do that, because I am massively uncomfortable talking on the phone, especially with people I do not know.

This week is going to be a big week – lots of phone calls, but also I have some great things upcoming:

  • Tuesday, I am getting some head-shots/photos taken by my good friend Adam. He lives in New Orleans and came home with his lovely wife to visit family, and agreed to do some shots for me. He recently opened his own design & production company. If you’re in the New Orleans area, check him out!
  • Wednesday, I get to go out to lunch with some co-workers who live in the Jacksonville area. Since we are virtual teachers, we most often work alone in our homes. FLVS teachers host get-togethers monthly so we can get out of the house and work together or just fellowship. I am looking forward to a great lunch and a nice time of meeting new co-workers!
  • Friday & Saturday my church is hosting a “Wounds that Heal” conference, led by Dr. Steve Seamands. He is going to be teaching about bringing our wounds, hurts and issues to the cross. If you’re in the Jacksonville, FL area, please come out. It is free! 🙂
  • My husband has been after me to begin writing music with him. I have felt God speaking to me about faith and trust for some time. Please pray for me, that I might be open to God’s voice and write down what He has to say (and not force something to happen).

If you think of it, please lift me (and my family) up in prayer this week. It is a busy week, and I want to make sure I balance my work and family time appropriately.

Thank you all for your continued support and love. How might I pray for you?? Please feel free to e-mail me with prayer requests, even if they are unspoken.

Blessings,

Happiness or Joy?

One of the biggest things I am learning in this time of my life is that I may not like every single second of each experience I am in. For example: as a mother of a young child, I am often told by other mothers or grandmothers to “enjoy every moment” because they go by quickly. While I understand and appreciate how short life is and how precious each milestone is, I am not sure that is achievable for mothers to do.

As a mother, I think Glennon at Momastery said it best in a recent column, “Don’t Carpe Diem.” She expresses how I have felt about this issue for some time. I can do the best I can, but I know and can guarantee I won’t be enjoying every single moment. Can I get an amen from all my momma’s out there?

And as a person, I have always struggled with this. I want to find the happiness and joy in every situation I am in. I want to be able to suffer well. To find the lesson in my troubles. But there are those days, where I am stressed out and sometimes I forget that I can cast all of my cares on Jesus. And perhaps it would be tempting for me to feel guilt or shame for not always reacting the way I should.

James 1 2 3

But life happens. And I know Jesus loves me. And I can go to Him in my crazy, overwhelmed state and He accepts me as I am….and then He teaches me and molds me into someone who is more and more like Him.

What are you going through today? Are you struggling to be joyful “in every moment.” You may not feel it, but God will mold you and make you content in where you are with Him.

Blessings,

May this song encourage those of you who are struggling today!

Desert Song – Hillsong

Happy Anniversary, honey!

Today I celebrate 8 years of marriage with my wonderful husband!!!

Prom

In some respects, it seems like we JUST met. Time flies. In other ways, it feels as if 8 years is a LONG time – in that we have grown so much together, have been through many things together.

Outside of my relationship with Christ, my husband is my greatest blessing. He is the yin to my yang. He challenges me yet supports and encourages me. He is inspiring and my biggest cheerleader. He tentatively cares to my needs. He almost always puts me first and gives 100 percent to our relationship. He is also an amazing, Godly spiritual leader of our home. He exemplifies the meaning of “loving your wife like Christ loves the Church…”

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He is also an amazing father to our daughter. I couldn’t ask for more and I know she will count her blessings when she thinks of him, too.

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Happy Anniversary, honey. To many more years to come. I am thankful to share life with you. Love you always.

How To Teach Your Littles About Easter

I am so excited to share with you some of our Easter traditions! I have to give a special thank you to Kristin @ Lily & Light for asking me to share today. She is such a blessing to my life and I am honored to be guest-blogging today on her blog, too.

Easter Egg Fun 2

{If you love jelly beans, I highly recommend the Starburst ones…YUMM-O!}

One of the more silly/fun things we do with my daughter is filling Easter eggs for her preschool. They have a big Easter egg hunt each year and ask parents to bring in eggs filled with candy. My sweet one has a great time picking out the plastic eggs and candy, and then helping to fill them to share with her classmates.

Easter Egg Fun

{Someone was VERY proud of their work!}

Can I be honest? My husband and I are terrible at starting family traditions. We struggle every year to do these. One of the biggest struggles we have had is teaching our daughter about the true meaning of important holidays like Christmas and Easter.

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Ultimately, we want our daughter to know Christ. We love the fun traditions that are more “commercial” in nature, but we strongly desire for her to be able to differentiate between what is truly important/impactful and what is for fun.

Thankfully, we were given a wonderful gift to help in this endeavor. My mother in law gave us the Jesus Storybook Bible for Christmas to help us teach our daughter about Jesus. If you have children who are younger, I HIGHLY recommend this Bible! This Bible has stories are extremely well written, are engaging, and build on each other. Every time we read one, my daughter asks to keep going! It really is THAT engaging.

One of the great additions you get when purchasing the Bible is that they include DVDs with cartoon videos that accompany each story. They are read by a narrator and the images match those in the Bible itself. It makes the stories come to life, and engage the kids in the story. Zondervan (the publisher) even put some of the videos online!

While my husband and I are still hashing this out, we do hope to use this Bible as a means to teach our sweet one about the reasons why we celebrate these holidays. While giving gifts and treats are certainly a fun part of these family holidays, I desperately want my daughter to find the true value behind Easter.

What types of Easter celebrations do you do with your families? What do you use to help teach your children about Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection?

Blessings (& Happy Easter!)

How To Make Your Own Laundry Soap

I am thrilled to be co-hosting the “Sweet Simplicity” link-up this week with Nicolle! The link-up will be for posts sharing simple, easy DIY, recipes, etc. See the link-up below to add your post!

I am an avid fan of Pinterest. When my husband and I were looking for ways to trim our budget to help pay off our debts, I stumbled upon a myriad of posts on homemade cleaning products. One of my favorite one on how to make your own laundry soap. You can find the original post here: Laundry Soap Recipe Original Post(I decided to share the copy-cat recipe below.)

For some reason, I think many ladies get overwhelmed with the idea of making their own laundry soap. However, it is incredibly simple to do. Not only that, but it has save us a tremendous amount of money. I only have to make this once every few months, and that saves us a big amount on our grocery budget each month!

Homemade Laundry Soap Recipe

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Items You Need:

  • 1 bar of soap (any kind you like – I change mine all the time depend on what scent I like)
  • 1 cup of Borax
  • 1 cup of washing soda
  • A cheese grater (the old-fashioned kind)
  • A funnel
  • A large liquid measuring cup (I use my 4 cup Pyrex one)
  • A large soup pot
  • 2 gallon containers
  • A large container to hold the soap (or, like me, you can collect old laundry soap holders and put the soap in there, hehe)

Launrdy Soap 2

Directions:

  1. Grate the bar of soap and then place into the pot.
  2. Fill a one gallon jug full of water and pour into the pot.
  3. Cook the grated soap and gallon of water until the water dissolves. I usually cook on medium heat.
  4. Once the bar soap is dissolved, put in the one cup of borax and one cup of washing soda into the pot.
  5. Cook until the mixture comes to a boil. DISCLAIMER: watch this carefully, if you walk away and it boils, it WILL SPILL OVER THE POT. (Ask me how I know….lol.)
  6. When it begins to boil and before it spills over, take off the heat.
  7. Add in an additional one gallon of COLD water and stir well.
  8. Using the funnel and measuring cup, begin pouring the laundry soap into your containers.
  9. Place the containers wherever you keep your laundry soap.

Additional Notes:

  • The laundry soap coagulates. Make sure you shake the containers well when you use it to do laundry!
  • You may not see suds. That is okay. Suds do not equal clean.
  • You can use 1/2 a cup for each load. Sometimes I use 1 cup if it is a larger load.
  • I use old laundry soap containers to store my soap. However, if you prefer, you can purchase a large, clear container like this one from Amazon.

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On Being a Working Momma

I had the great privilege of sharing this on Nathalie’s series “The Mamahood” today. I have often struggled with guilt about being a work outside the home momma. Here is part of my journey…

I have had the great privilege to be a momma for four years now. And for most of the time, I have been a work outside the home momma. I say it that way, because I truly feel all mommas are “working mommas.” I think the term “stay at home mom” has a tone of “you don’t do anything but sit all day.” I like to think we all work – some of us in the home, some of us outside the home.

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While working outside the home has its challenges, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Since I am a high school teacher, I get the privilege of having extended at-home time with my daughter during summers and the holidays. I also get the benefit of being around my peers and gaining wisdom from other adults during my day. Is this life stressful? Yes. Is it beneficial to my overall life? Definitely!

One of the biggest lies of the enemy that comes from being a momma that works outside the home is this: “You’re not doing enough for your child. You’re being selfish and are not caring for them by being home with them.” As I have grown as a mother, I have come to recognize this as a tool of the devil. As mothers, we have to do what is best for our families. Sometimes, we simply cannot afford to be a “work at home” momma. Other times, it may be best for our personal mental, psychological and even spiritual health that we find work outside of our home.

Can I be honest? I am doing my child a disservice by staying home with her. I greatly admire all “work at home” mommas. However, I do not feel this is a calling for my family at this time. I get extremely fitful when I am at home for extended periods and find that my daughter craves the structure and socialization her preschool provides. In this season, we mutually benefit by spending time apart from each other, and we can truly enjoy the time we have together in the afternoons and on the weekends. In addition, our family needs the financial support my job provides, so we can pay off our debts and begin to transition into church planting.

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As Christians, whether we work inside or outside the home, may our goal in mothering be that our children come to know Christ. As Paul states in Philippians, “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.”(Philippians 3:10) More than anything, I desperately want my daughter to know Christ. Whether that means I am teaching her during the day or in the evenings, it is my biggest goal and hope.

I sincerely hope that whether you feel called to be a work from home momma or a “work outside the home” momma, that you do so prayerfully and that you do not feel ashamed by your choice. Mothers should not feel that they have to separate into one of the two camps. We have a common denominator that binds us all together – we are mothers. As mothers, we should seek to encourage, to lift up and to offer prayer & support to our fellow mothers. If we focus our eyes on Jesus instead of others opinion, He will mold us into the mothers He created us to be and we will be able to lead our children to Jesus, in whatever way He has called us to do so.

Faces of Eden Collage Carrie 4

Are you a new mom or a seasoned mom who is struggling with this are or another area of mothering? I highly recommend the book “Desperate” by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson. As I have been struggling as a mom over these last few years, reading it renewed my spirit and gave me a sense of freedom to mother the way God called me to.

May you be blessed today, momma. You are loved.

Sickness Has Taken Over!!

I had another blog post planned for Friday. But life happened. My husband and my daughter both got a stomach bug and we spent a lot of time this week trying to get her better. She still can’t shake the diarrhea (TMI? Sorry, it happens), and we are both tired and frustrated. Not only is it horrible that she is sick, but she acts fine with no fever or symptoms…then we will take her to school, and she gets sick again. I spent many days this week having to call out or leave work early to take her home. It’s been a long week full of exhaustion, frustration and feelings of hopelessness.

We have tried all sorts of medicines. We are big holistic folks, so we are working on that. We feel we have tried it all and nothing is working. It feels hopeless. We feel lost. Sad. Frustrated. Even angry.

When I (or my loved ones) get sick, it makes me feel as if we will never come out of it. We are naturally healthy people, so sickness is a rare occurrence. I have tried to lean on my own understanding this week, and have not prayer enough or trusted God enough to get through this.

I have experienced an overwhelming feeling that I cannot handle “all the things” that have come my way this week. I am behind at work. I cannot keep my home clean. Tons of laundry. Missed blog posts. Exhaustion. Dirty, unwashed hair.

Then I am reminded of this:

healing quote

God’s does not plan these things that happen to us to harm us. He is love and He cares for us. He simply asks me to trust Him. To trade my worry and heavy burden(s) over to Him. And man, did I fail on that one this week. I am learning more and more that life happens. And regardless of how it stresses me out, He has my back.

How many times did I actually pray for my family vs. asking others to pray for us? Am I really going back to a place of shirking my responsibility as a Christ-follower? When has worry ever accomplished anything for me?

God has certainly used this as a means to teach me about my (continual) lack of trust and lack of a prayer life. May I always remember to run to Him first, for comfort and for strength. And may I remember that He promises me full abundance, goodness and mercy all the days of my life. <ay you be encouraged. When the little (or even big) things of life get you down, He has your back. You can lean on Him. His promises are true.

Psalm 23

Please pray for my sweetie. I don’t blog much about her here, but she is one of the best things to ever come into my life. I know all my parents friends out there understand how hard it is to see your children hurting. Thank you all so much for your continued prayers and faith.

Faces of Eden Collage

Blessings,

Only Child Syndrome

Eden Bike

{My diva-licious daughter on Christmas with her new bike. She is a hoot.}

I have a confession to make.

I don’t want to have any more children.

(Please, don’t shoot me – especially all my wonderful friends who are mom’s to multiple kids or my lovely friends who are desperately trying to have children!)

And when I tell people this, I get the whole awkward moment conversation and the, “Oh……”  Or I get the, “Well, aren’t you thinking of your daughter? She NEEDS a sibling.” And it makes me frustrated. Since when does ANYONE else know what is best for my daughter? Or my family for that matter?

Why would I want to birth/add more children to my family just to have others/society/my own family approve of me? How does that benefit me, my child or my family in general??

I decided to write this because I feel it is important to share something with you all. God has used this frustration of the “only child issue” to reveal  revelations to me as I struggled with my own convictions/desires on the issue vs. what others wanted me to do.

Here is what I feel He is teaching me:

Motherhood is a calling and deciding to become a mother is a HUGE choice. It isn’t a passing fancy, something that we do for fun or to feel like we belong with the other friends in our age group/community. We choose this because we feel it is something God has called us to do. Whether someone chooses to have one child, multiple children or to adopt children, it should be a decision made prayerfully in coordination with God’s plan for her and her family’s life.

Not only that, but what I do as a mother is unto the Lord, and not other people.

God is slowly teaching me that I am to be hidden in HIS will for my life. He is showing me that He will reveal to me through His spirit if any of my desires or convictions are not right or not a part of His plan for me. I choose to live my life to glorify Him alone.

God has also used this issue to bring to light my intense desire to people-please. I have always wanted approval from others, even from a young age. For whatever reason, my self-worth seemed to be tied to achieving a good reputation amongst my family, friends and (now) co-workers. While these desires are not wrong in their entirety, putting too much emphasis on your reputation or how people perceive you can lead to anxiety/worry and to NOT focusing on the Lord.

I had no idea when I became a mother, that this issue would thrust me into a spot-light where people will comment on my parenting skills, my daughters behavior and personality, and my family’s decisions on whether to expand and have more children (or not). But today I choose to not get frustrated, people-please or become bitter; instead, I choose joy and will turn to Christ and His word to find my peace and self-worth.

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{I love my silly family. We are a perfect fit. Thank you LORD for my family!}

Are you struggling in an area of your life where you turn to people pleasing?

Do you feel like you need to make people in your family, peer group or workplace happy all of the time?

God did not intend for you to give your life over to others. He wants you to rest IN HIM and what HE HAS for your life. Get into His word. Pray. Seek Godly counsel. Ask God for help and seek Him in all areas of your life. He will reveal to you what decisions you should make in whatever area you are struggling in today.

Blessings, friends!

Some verses for encouragement….. 🙂

Galatians 1:10:

“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”

Colossians 3:23:

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”

Colossians 3:17:

“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”

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